Des Moines' tourism agency tracks visitors via cell phones
Catch Des Moines began using Arrivalist, a service that tracks visitors by their cell phones, in April, Trina Flack, vice president of sales, tells Axios.
Why it matters: It can better estimate the economic value of events and where future promotional investments are spent, Flack said.
- Catch Des Moines will give out more than $500,000 in incentives this year to attract or assist events in the metro.
How it works: Arrivalist uses algorithms and mobile location data with an average accuracy of 30 feet.
- In the past, Catch Des Moines was more reliant on an event's self-reported stats like registration numbers to estimate economic impact, Flack said.
- The new data allows tourism officials to review how many people were in specific locations during an event.
For example: Some of the initial Arrivalist DSM reports are just coming back, including data on last month's Red Bull Soapbox (which Axios Des Moines participated in).
- It generated an estimated total economic impact of almost $1.4 million, which is good for a one-day event, Flack said.
- The information provided to Catch Des Moines measures aggregate data and does not identify people or their phone numbers, Flack said.
- Heidi Mannetter, an associate professor who teaches digital marketing at Drake University, told Axios because of that, she believes the threat level to personal privacy is low.
Yes, and: The data can also help with public safety by alerting event planners to things like overcrowding or traffic congestion, Arrivalist CEO Cree Lawson told Axios Tuesday.
- Plus: Only people who allow apps like weather services permission to track their locations are included in Arrivalist's algorithms, he said.
The big picture: There are concerns about the use of location or mobile data technologies.
- The Federal Trade Commission threatened this month to use privacy laws against companies that exploit sensitive health information.
- The ACLU last week published thousands of government records, alleging mobile location data has led to constitutional violations of unreasonable searches and seizures.
Bottom line: Phones are now influencing DSM tourism.
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