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Digital Improvements - Frequently Asked Questions

What are Cisco Meraki footfall sensors?

Cisco Meraki are wireless local area network devices, which detect the presence of Wi-Fi enabled devices.  These sensors are small, electronic units which use this as a means to calculate the total number of people in a given area, at a given time. 

Are Cisco Meraki footfall Sensors linked to 5G?

No.  The sensors are purely to calculate the total number of people in an area. 

What do we need to know how many people visit an area?

It can help shops to plan opening times to suit more people, it can help with knowing where and when is best to put on events, and it can help for gathering data for funding applications to help us invest in an area, and increase the chance of being awarded funding to improve your town centres.

Will this affect my right to privacy?

No. Meraki designed this functionality with several privacy features in mind, echoing Privacy by Design and by Default as enshrined within Article 25 of GDPR:

This feature is disabled by default for organizations created within Meraki’s EU Cloud.

Meraki specifically built its Location Analytics feature so that tracking of devices across different customers’ networks is not possible.  Location Analytics cannot tell a Meraki customer where a device was before coming within range of its network or where the device went after leaving the range of its network.

Meraki has also created its own opt-out web page that individual users can access in order to opt-out their device’s MAC address from being tracked by ANY Meraki-enabled location analytics feature.

You can find the latest version on Cisco’s trust portal

In context of the ruling, “Location Analytics” is the feature relevant for our conversation – it provides data about the physical locations of visitors, enabling businesses to better understand the behaviour of clients.  Location Analytics is available with all Meraki wireless access points. 

What are SMART Towns?

Towns which use digital equipment to offer services and data to make their town more efficient and to improve the services and operations in the town.

Why do we need SMART Towns?

To help us improve resources, and improve your town centre, we need to know how best to provide better services and offerings.  Knowing which areas of town are most visited, and when, helps us to understand how to make them more appealing, and helps us improve, based upon accurate information and figures.

What is The Year of SMART Towns? 

The Welsh Government announced a package of support to revitalise Welsh town centres. The aim is to enable businesses to plan projects which lead to economic growth, as well as helping them make the best use of digital technology. The Year of SMART Towns ran from 2021 to end of March 2022.

How much is Flintshire County Council paying for SMART equipment and Cisco Meraki Footfall sensors?

Welsh Government has confirmed they will provide a number of free footfall counting sensors to Flintshire, to help assess the current levels of shoppers and visitors in our town centres, and identify ways in which to increase the spend, and the length of time, which people spend in our towns. FCC has also secured funding from the Welsh Government’s Placemaking Grants ‘Transforming Towns – Digital Towns’ to continue to improve the digital capacity of towns in Flintshire, to help make them better for Flintshire residents and businesses.

What information will you gather about me?

None.  The Cisco Meraki have the capacity to offer network access that can be activated or deactivated.  However Flintshire Footfall sensors will not capture personal information.  No Wi-Fi access, or app is provided, so no personal information will be collected. 

Will you track my phone?

No.  Footfall sensors do not track individual mobile ‘phones.  Footfall sensors detect an anonymous ‘phone signal in an area, which counts towards the total ‘footfall’ count in that area. 

Is this linked to the Police and CCTV?

No.  Counting anonymized numbers of people in an area with a ‘footfall sensor’ is in no way linked to CCTV systems.  These are separate systems, run by separate operating systems and organisations, and are not linked. 

Which Flintshire towns plan to have Footfall Sensors?

Mold has been identified as an ideal location for the pilot due to its vibrant market, shopping centre, proactive business community, and the recent substantial investment in Bailey Hill as a visitor attraction. Using the ‘Digital Towns’ funding, FCC is expanding upon the opportunity to capitalise upon learning from the Pilot, the benefits and lessons learned, and focus upon the respective priorities for other areas, and ensure a smooth roll in other towns, including Flint, Connah’s Quay, Holywell and Buckley.

How was the Pilot for Mold Developed and Who Was Involved? 

An Action Plan was drawn up as a coordinated joint effort, with input from local Members and Town representatives, to take it forward, setting out the areas which could benefit from improvement.  

What does ‘Internet of Things’ mean?

Internet of Things (IoT) operate as wireless devices, gathering non-personal data from their surroundings and detecting changes in the environment, things like movement, lighting, temperature and air quality.  These link with gateways, and servers to enable the data to be collated.  IoT work is piloting at this stage, but there is potential to utilise IoT to help develop improvements locally for people. 

What Are LoRaWAN Sensors?

LoRaWAN sensors are IoT devices which operate on LoRaWAN networks.  They can transfer data across long distances, and offer a good quality, practical solution for network connections, especially in remote areas without reliable systems for high quality data speed transfer. 

Why would we need, or want, LoRaWan Sensors?

LoRaWan sensors can be used in practical ways to support and reassure people, utilising discreet ‘alert’ systems, such as sending notifications when essential life-saving equipment like life-rings and defibrillators are removed, to help ensure communities aren’t left without life-saving equipment in place.  They can also help provide information on traffic flows, and use of cycle routes, and that can help provide data to support funding bids to help improve services for people.  These do not collect personal information, just data on the environment and uses within that environment.

When Will The Flintshire Towns ‘Go Digital’?

Equipment will be installed at the end of March 2022, and will provide more up to date information to count footfall numbers, in addition to the present equipment - which has been place for several years.