Estimating Farmers Market Visitors by Counting Mobile Phone Pings

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During 2020, FRESHFARM, an organization that manages farmers markets in the Washington, D.C., area, piloted a relatively low-cost device that counts the number of pings from mobile phones as they connect with a Wi-Fi network. This technology does not reveal any of the phone owner’s identifying information, nor does it collect data from phones. Instead, these counts provide a way for farmers market managers to estimate the number of visitors and their length of stay at the market. With this technology, managers do not need to expend effort while the market is open to collect this information. The devices are small, light, and require only a credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computer, USB adapter, battery pack, and thumb drive.

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