Googles popular times; what data tracking gets us

Have you ever looked at or noticed when searching a shop or place on google it will show a little bar chart with popular times? well if not it looks like this

Google popular times

You can conventionally scope out days and times in which supposedly displays if the place is busy, quiet or bustling. It’s convenient yes although accuracy is questionable and most times using common sense will tell you the gym us very busy 5-8pm weeknights. Now this data isn’t fetched by Google guessing, its given from you or those who use a Google service.

Popular times, the making of

Unless you have tracking turned of in background Google maps app will grab your location at will, a Google search will do the same if you allow your browser access to it or just use Google Chrome and it will send if off easy. Of course this is all laid out in the terms of use Google do claim its anonymous but im sure they will have ‘anonymous’ profiles on so many people. This is also how Google maps traffic congestion data is compiled. It’s these people who help the creation and relevancy of the popular times feature, maybe we should be thanking them?

Do we have trust in our data use?

This brings up trust, i would have no issue with Google grabbing my data like this. Except once they start grabbing search terms, age, gender and interests you can see where the anonymous part starts to go out the window. Google will know where you work and live even if these are not on Facebook, simply by putting location data together and if they are putting data together that’s creating profiles.

Back to the Popular times feature, would businesses see this as a good thing? honestly i would say no in a ‘money hungry business’ sense. If the data is slightly off and it says the gym is busy at 1pm – 3pm when in fact its dead quiet it may well deter customers if they check popular times. Again it can work the other way but it all comes down to common sense. For smaller businesses it can help spread the load of customers throughout the day.

From all this data grabbing from companies to see something, somewhat good come from it is pleasing. But i see it like jekyll and hyde, a two faced machine in which we get the good and the bad.