Walmart’s Vudu adds Family Play feature so viewers can skip sex, violence and substance abuse – gpgmail


Vudu, the streaming service owned by Walmart, announced a new feature today that will make it easier for viewers to avoid sex and violence in movies.

Anyone who’s watched an R-rated movie on broadcast television or on an airplane is probably familiar with films that have been “edited for content,” but Vudu’s new Family Play option gives viewers more control over what they find objectionable.

Specifically, they can turn filters on and off for sex/nudity, violence, substance abuse and language. In the first three instances, Vudu will skip the relevant scenes, and in the case of strong language, it will mute the dialog. The feature is already supported in more than 500 films.

At an advertiser event in May, Vudu leaders suggested that they will stand out from the other streaming services by creating content that can be watched by entire families, with Senior Director Julian Franco declaring, “We’re not just going to be programming for Williamsburg and Silver Lake.”

It sounds like Vudu has similar ambitions for all its original content. In a blog post today, Vice President Scott Blanksteen wrote:

With so much content available and more people watching, what if we could also be a streaming service that provides a great, safe viewing environment for families? What if we could provide our customers the flexibility to ensure that content and the Vudu experience are appropriate for everyone in the family to watch, including the youngest of viewers – kids?

A streaming service called VidAngel ran into legal trouble (and eventually declared bankruptcy) a couple of years ago when it tried to sell movies that were edited to be family-friendly. However, where VidAngel was operating independently to decrypt and edit DVDs, Vudu told Variety that it’s working with the movie studios.

Vudu also says it’s partnering with advocacy group Common Sense Media to provide ratings and reviews “from a parent’s perspective,” and to create a kid-friendly viewing mode. And it’s launching its first original series today — a remake of “Mr. Mom,” with new episodes streaming every Thursday.


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ET Deals: Samsung Galaxy A50 + Galaxy Fit $349, Dell 24-inch 1080p IPS Monitor $99, Ecovacs Deebot Vacuum $149


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Today you can take advantage of a special pre-order deal to get Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy A50 smartphone with a free Galaxy Fit.

Samsung Galaxy A50 6.4-Inch 64GB Smartphone + Samsung Galaxy Fit ($349.99)

Samsung’s Galaxy A50 is a powerful mid-range smartphone with an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space. The phone also features a large 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display and a 4,000mAh battery that Samsung claims can last for up to 35 hours. The Galaxy A50 is set to launch on September 20, but if you pre-order it now from Amazon you will also receive a free Galaxy Fit with your purchase.

Dell SE2419H 24-Inch 1080p IPS Display ($99.99)

Dell 24-Inch (SE2419H) monitor

Dell’s SE2419H doesn’t come with a robust feature set. In fact, it’s about as bland as a 24-inch 1080p IPS display can be. That said, it’s perfectly fine for essentially any task and it will work well for anyone that simply needs a new monitor or an extra one. It also happens to be an excellent deal at the moment, as it has been marked down from $169.99 to $99.99 at Walmart.

Ecovacs Deebot N79S Robot Vacuum Cleaner ($149.99)

The Deebot N79S was designed to be an affordable robot vacuum with powerful suction and an easy to use interface. You can control the robot vacuum by connecting it to your smartphone, which will let you guide it around your home to hit those spots that need extra attention. Currently, it’s marked down from $229.99 to $149.99 with promo code 50FALL from Amazon.

Dell XPS 8930 Intel Core i9-9900 Desktop w/ 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB HDD ($854.89)

If you aren’t a gamer but still want a fast computer for work and everyday tasks, then this model of Dell’s XPS 8930 desktop is perfect for you. It features an exceptionally fast Intel Core i9-9900 processor that has eight CPU cores that can hit a max speed of 5GHz. This makes well suited for running any number of high-performance applications. You can get this system marked down from $1,079.99 to a more affordable $854.89 from Dell with promo code SAVE17.

Asus VivoBook F510QA AMD Core A12-9720P 15.6-Inch 1080p Notebook w/ 4GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB SSD ($259.00)

Asus’s lightweight VivoBook F510QA isn’t particularly powerful, with four of AMD’s energy-efficient Bristol Ridge processor cores clocked at 2.7GHz, but it still has sufficient oomph to quickly browse the web and engage in social networking and multimedia consumption. You can get it from Walmart marked down from $399.00 to $259.00.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X 12-Core SMT Processor ($199.99)

AMD’s Threadripper 1920x features a dozen CPU cores with SMT technology, which allows the processor to handle a whopping 24 threads simultaneously. This gives it exceptional performance while multitasking. The processor also operates at 4.2GHz and has an enormous 38MB of cache. Originally priced at $799.00, you can now get this processor from Amazon for the remarkably low price of $199.99. At this price, they are practically giving it away.

Note: Terms and conditions apply. See the relevant retail sites for more information. For more great deals, go to our partners at TechBargains.com.




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How the Valley can get philanthropy right with former Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest – gpgmail


Paul Brest didn’t set out to transform philanthropy. A constitutional law scholar who clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Harlan and is credited with coining the term “originalism,” Brest spent twelve years as dean of Stanford Law School.

But when he was named president of the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the country’s largest large non-profit funders, Brest applied the rigor of a legal scholar not just to his own institution’s practices but to those of the philanthropy field at large. He hired experts to study the practice of philanthropy and helped to launch Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, where he still teaches.

Now, Brest has turned his attention to advising Silicon Valley’s next generation of donors.

From Stanford to the Hewlett Foundation

Photo by David Madison / Getty Images

Scott Bade: Your background is in constitutional law. How did you make the shift from being dean at Stanford to running the Hewlett Foundation as president?

Paul Brest: I came into the Hewlett Foundation largely by accident. I really didn’t know anything about philanthropy, but I had been teaching courses on problem-solving and decision making. I think I got the job because a number of people on the board knew me, both from Stanford Law School, but also from playing chamber music with Walter and Esther Hewlett.

Bade: When was this?

Brest: I started there in 2000. Bill Hewlett died the year after I came. Walter Hewlett, Bill’s son, was chair of the board during the entire time I was president. But it’s not a family foundation.

Bade: What were your initial impressions of the foundation and the broader philanthropic space?

Brest: Not having come from the non-profit sector, it took me a year or so to really understand what it [meant] to use our assets in each area in a strategic way.  The [Hewlett] Foundation had very good values in terms of the areas it was supporting — the environment, education, population, women’s reproductive rights. It had good philanthropic practices, but it was not very strategically focused. It turned out that not very many foundations were strategic.

Paul’s framework for thinking about philanthropy

Paul informal photo

Photo provided by Paul Brest

Bade: What do you mean by ‘strategic’?

Brest: What I mean [by] strategic is having clear goals and having an evidence-based, evidence-informed strategy for achieving them. Big foundations tend to be conglomerates with different programs trying to achieve different goals.

[Being strategic means] monitoring progress as you work towards those goals. Then evaluating in advance whether the strategy is going to be plausible and then whether you’re actually achieving the outcomes you’re trying to achieve so that you can make course corrections if you’re not achieving.

[For example,] the likelihood that the roughly billionaire dollars or more that have been spent or committed to climate advocacy are going to have any effect is quite low. The place where metrics comes in is just having kind of an expected return mindset where yes, the chances of success are low, but we know that the importance of success — or putting it differently, the effects of failure — are going to be catastrophic.

What a strategic mindset does here is say: it’s worth taking huge bets even where the margins of error of the likelihood of success are very hard to measure when the results are huge.

I don’t want to say the [Hewlett] Foundation was anti-strategic, or totally unstrategic, but it really had not developed a [this kind of] systematic framework for doing those things.

Bade: You’re known in the philanthropic community for putting an emphasis on defining, achieving, measuring impact. Have those sort of technocratic practices made philanthropy better?

Brest: I think you have to start by asking, what would it mean for philanthropy to be good? From my point of view, philanthropy is good when I like the goals it chooses. Then, given a good goal, when it is effective in achieving that goal. Strategy really has nothing to say about what the goals are, but only how effective it is.

My guess is that 90 plus percent of philanthropy is intended to achieve goals that most of us think are good goals. There are occasions when you have direct conflicts of goals as you do with say the anti-abortion and the choice movements, or gun control and the NRA. Those are important arguments.

But most philanthropy is trying to improve education or improve the lives of the poor. My view is that philanthropy is good when it is effective in achieving those goals, and trying to do no harm in the process.

Current debates on philanthropy


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At a Glance: Origin Millennium Hard Line Vice Edition Review


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Over the years America has seen its fair share of memorable decades in fashion. We’ve had the roaring twenties, the golden era following the end of WWII, disco, and so on. A lot has changed since then, but in nostalgic reverence for the 1980s and Miami Vice, Origin has designed its customized Millennium Hard Line Vice Edition gaming desktop with lots of classic neon flair.

Design

At first glance, you’ll either love or hate this case. The right side features some retro artwork with “Origin Vice” emblazoned across it. I’m fairly sure I had a Nintendo game that looked like this before.

The left side of the case features a tempered glass panel with additional artwork. The system inside looks immaculate and it glows like an actual neon sign.

Origin built this system with a hard tube liquid cooling system. Clear cooler blocks are mounted over the CPU and on two Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. These blocks glow blue and the hard tubes connecting them together glow purple. The RAM also features specialized head-spreaders designed by Origin that have been topped off with blue and purple LED lights.

Benchmarks

With two RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards in SLI and an Intel Core i9-9900K processor, this system is overkill for a gaming system. Our sister site, PCMag, benchmarked one of these systems against some of the fastest computers the site has ever tested.

 

The Core i9-9900K inside of the Millennium Hard Line doesn’t come overclocked. As a result, it came in second place behind the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 when tested with the CPU focused Cinebench R15 benchmark.

 

As RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards are fairly new, and the Origin Millennium Hard Line Vice has two of them overclocked with a water cooler, the system easily surpassed the competition in almost every test that takes advantage of the GPU.

 

PCMag did some additional testing with a custom built system with two RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards and an Intel Core i7-8700K. Testing against this system showed the Millennium hard Line Vice occasionally fall into second place despite its faster processor and superior thermal solution.

Conclusion

If you’re holding onto fond memories of the 1980s and love the looks of this case you can order the system directly from Origin, but you best also have deep pockets. The system carries with it an exuberant price tag of $6,557. Although it does offer exceptional performance, high-end parts, and an expensive thermal solution in addition to the customized aesthetic look, at this point we’re venturing into used car money. Actually, I’ve owned just four cars in my life and the first three of them together just cost roughly half what this case does.

Realistically no one needs this level of performance. And if you aren’t a fan of the 1980s, like myself, then you aren’t going to like this case. But to be fair, this system isn’t targeted as a sensible high-performance solution. It’s intended to be a showpiece for someone that really digs its vibe. The system appears to be well made and performs well, so if you absolutely love the case I’d recommend buying it.

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Max Levchin’s Affirm seeks capital amid surge in fintech funding – gpgmail


Another consumer finance business is lining up investors for its largest cash infusion yet.

Affirm, founded by PayPal’s Max Levchin, is said to be raising as much as $1.5 billion in a combination of debt and equity, according to people with knowledge of the company’s fundraising activities. Josh Kushner’s New York venture capital firm Thrive Capital is said to be leading the financing, with participation from the San Francisco outfit Spark Capital.

Affirm declined to comment. Representatives of Thrive and Spark, existing Affirm investors, have not responded to a request for comment.

Sources familiar with Affirm, which gives consumers an alternative to personal loans and credit by financing online purchases at point-of-sale, presume the round will be made up largely of a line of credit from a large financial institution, known as a warehouse facility.

Affirm recently raised a $300 million Thrive-led Series F round in April at a valuation of $3 billion. Fintech companies focused on payments and lending, however, require a vast amount of capital to sustain operations. Those capital requirements coupled with the frothiness of the venture capital market justify this additional cash infusion.

To date, Affirm has raised $1.03 billion in funding from Ribbit Capital, Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and more, according to PitchBook. Fellow fintech ‘unicorns’ Brex, Stripe, SoFi and Kabbage, for context, have collectively raised roughly $5 billion in debt and equity to date.

Affirm offers installment plans to online shoppers, a method of delayed payment historically reserved for large purchase like vehicles or luxury electronics. Using Affirm, consumers can create personalized installment plans for purchases as small as a pair of sneakers sold by StockX or as large as a diamond engagement ring from Diamond Nexus, for example.

Affirm, serving as an alternative to a credit card charge, requires no paperwork, minimum credit score or income. The company, however, makes money the same way as a credit card provider, with interest rates for Affirm’s loans falling between 10% and 30%.

Affirm’s fundraising efforts come as more and more companies are devoting ample resources to consumer and B2B lending. Affirm, doubling down on the opportunity in B2B, spun out a new financial services business focused entirely on business lending earlier this year. The company, Resolve, provides a “buy now, pay later” option tailored to B2B sales flow.

“Traditional B2B financing is slow, inaccurate and limits a business’s potential for growth because of an over reliance on email, call centers, faxes and manual invoicing processes,” Resolve wrote in an April press release. “Today, many companies offer a standard net 30-day payment plan only to their best and longest tenured customers, leaving others in need of financing to rely on credit cards or installment loans.”

Meanwhile, companies like Stripe and Square are making a concerted effort to explore other financial frontiers, with the former launching a lending tool as well as a corporate credit card this month. Square, for its part, recently introduced a new debit card, called the Square Card, allowing businesses to withdraw and spend money they’ve collected through Square payments.

Venture investment in fintech companies headquartered in the U.S. is poised to reach new highs this year. In the first eight months of 2019, $10.5 billion was funneled into the sector, following a record high of $11.6 billion in 2018. Globally, fintech investment is increasing, too, with nearly $20 billion deployed this year, per PitchBook.

Competition in the fintech space has accelerated growth and innovation, as consumer-friendly, frictionless tools permeate the conservative and highly-regulated finance industry.

Following a year of fintech mega-rounds, we expect to seem a series of fintech initial public offerings as soon as next year. Affirm, Robinhood, Stripe, SoFi, Coinbase, we’re looking at you.


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Voyage raises $31 million to bring driverless taxis to communities – gpgmail


Voyage, the autonomous vehicle startup that spun out of Udacity, announced Thursday it has raised $31 million in a round led by Franklin Templeton.

Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures and Chevron Technology Ventures also participated in the round. The company, which operates a ride-hailing service in retirement communities using self-driving cars supported by human safety drivers, has raised a total of $52 million since launching in 2017. The new funding includes a $3 million convertible note.

Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron has big plans for the fresh injection of capital, including hiring and expanding its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which always have a human safety driver behind the wheel.

Ultimately, the expanded G2 fleet and staff are just the means toward Cameron’s grander mission to turn Voyage into a truly driverless and profitable ride-hailing company.

“It’s not just about solving self-driving technology,” Cameron told gpgmail in a recent interview, explaining that a cost-effective vehicle designed to be driverless is the essential piece required to make this a profitable business.

The company is in the midst of a hiring campaign that Cameron hopes will take its 55-person staff to more than 150 over the next year. Voyage has had some success attracting high-profile people to fill executive-level positions, including CTO Drew Gray, who previously worked at Uber ATG, Otto, Cruise and Tesla, as well as former NIO and Tesla employee Davide Bacchet as director of autonomy.

Funds will also be used to increase its fleet of second-generation self-driving cars (called G2) that are currently being used in a 4,000-resident retirement community in San Jose, Calif., as well as The Villages, a 40-square-mile, 125,000-resident retirement city in Florida. Voyage’s G2 fleet has 12 vehicles. Cameron didn’t provide details on how many vehicles it will add to its G2 fleet, only describing it as a “nice jump that will allow us to serve consumers.”

Voyage used the G2 vehicles to create a template of sorts for its eventual driverless vehicle. This driverless product — a term Cameron has used in a previous post on Medium — will initially be limited to 25 miles per hour, which is the driving speed within the two retirement communities in which Voyage currently tests and operates. The vehicle might operate at a low speed, but they are capable of handling complex traffic interactions, he wrote.

“It won’t be the most cost-effective vehicle ever made because the industry still is in its infancy, but it will be a huge, huge, huge improvement over our G2 vehicle in terms of being be able to scale out a commercial service and make money on each ride,” Cameron said. 

Voyage initially used modified Ford Fusion vehicles to test its autonomous vehicle technology, then introduced in July 2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, its second generation of autonomous vehicles. But the end goal has always been a driverless product.

gpgmail previously reported that the company has partnered with an automaker to provide this next-generation vehicle that has been designed specifically for autonomous driving. Cameron wouldn’t name the automaker. The vehicle will be electric and it won’t be a retrofit like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicles Voyage currently uses or its first-generation vehicle, a Ford Fusion.

Most importantly, and a detail Cameron did share with gpgmail, is that the vehicle it uses for its driverless service will have redundancies and safety-critical applications built into it.

Voyage also has deals in place with Enterprise rental cars and Intact insurance company to help it scale.

“You can imagine leasing is much more optimal than purchasing and owning vehicles on your balance sheet,” Cameron said. “We have those deals in place that will allow us to not only get the vehicle costs down, but other aspects of the vehicle into the right place as well.”


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Shape Security hits $1B valuation with $51M Series F – gpgmail


Anti-fraud startup Shape Security has tipped over the $1 billion valuation mark following its latest Series F round of $51 million.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company announced the fundraise Thursday, bringing the total amount of outside investment to $183 million since the company debuted in 2011.

C5 Capital led the round, along with several other new and returning investors, including Kleiner Perkins, HPE Growth and Norwest Ventures Partners.

Shape Security protects companies against automated and imitation attacks, which often employ bots to break into networks using stolen or reused credentials. Shape uses artificial intelligence to discern bots from ordinary users by comparing known information such as a user’s location, and collected data, like mouse movements, to shut down attempted automated logins in real time.

The company said it now protects against two billion fraudulent logins daily.

C5 managing partner André Pienaar said he believes Shape will become the “definitive” anti-fraud platform for the world’s largest companies.

“While we expect a strong financial return, we also believe that we can bring Shape’s platform into many of the leading companies in Europe who look to us for strategic ideas that benefit the entire value-chain where B2C applications are used,” Pienaar told gpgmail.

Shape’s chief executive Derek Smith said the $51 million injection will go toward the company’s international expansion and product development — particularly the capabilities of its AI system.

He added that Shape was preparing for an IPO.

Correction: A draft of the company’s funding news said Shape had raised $173 million to date. The company said this was a typo and has in fact raised $183 million.


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Nintendo shows off exercise-powered RPG for Switch, Ring Fit Adventure – gpgmail


Nintendo has been at the crossroads of video games and fitness since the famous Power Pad for the NES, and the Switch is the latest to receive a game powered by physical activity: Ring Fit Adventure. And it actually looks fun!

In the game, you’ll jog in place to advance your character, and perform various movements and exercises to avoid obstacles and defeat enemies. Your quest is to defeat an “evil body-building dragon” who has disrupted the peaceful, apparently very fit world of the protagonist. Sure.

The game comes with a pair of accessories: a ring and leg strap, each of which you slot a Joy-Con into. The two controllers work together to get a picture of your whole body movement, meaning it can be sure you’re keeping your arms out in front of you when you do a squat, and not phoning it in during leg raises.

The ring itself is flexible and can tell how hard you’re squeezing or pulling it— but don’t worry, it can be calibrated for your strength level.

Interestingly, the top button of the controller appears to be able to be used as a heart-rate monitor. That kind of came out of left field, but I like it. Just one more way Nintendo is making its hardware do interesting new things.

ringfit2

There look to be a ton of different movements you’ll be required to do, focusing on different areas of the body: upper, lower, core and some sort of whole-body ones inspired by yoga positions. Ingeniously, some enemies are weak to one or another, and you’ll need to use different ones for other scenarios, so you’re getting a varied workout whether you like it or not.

Meanwhile, your character levels up and unlocks new, more advanced moves — think a lunge instead of a squat, or adding an arm movement to a leg one — and you can get closer to the goal.

ringfit3

There are also minigames and straight-up workouts you can select, which you can do at any time if you don’t feel like playing the actual game, and contribute to your character’s level anyway.

The idea of gamifying fitness has been around for quite a while, and some titles, like Wii Fit, actually got pretty popular. But this one seems like the most in-depth actual game to use fitness as its main mechanic, and critically it is simple and easy enough that even the most slothful among us can get in a session now and then at our own pace.

Ring Fit Adventure will be available October 18 — no pricing yet, but you can probably expect it to be a little above an ordinary Switch game.

You can watch the full-length walkthrough of the game below, but beware — the acting is a little off-putting.


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Nintendo Files Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Another Large ROM Site


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Nintendo owns some of the most iconic intellectual property in games, and it’s taking a stand against ROM sites. After securing a win against two major ROM distributors, Nintendo has set its sights on another website called RomUniverse. Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against the owner of RomUniverse seeking millions of dollars in damages and demanding that the site shut down. 

According to the legal filing, RomUniverse is one of the largest unauthorized distributors of Nintendo games. It also seems to be a particularly brazen enterprise, featuring a Nintendo-themed background and paid memberships (a one-time $30 fee) that allow users to download as much content as they want. Without the membership, you can only download three items per week. RomUniverse also hosts movies and ebooks, and these are direct downloads. At least torrent sites have the advantage of not storing infringing files on their servers. 

Nintendo points to numerous examples of infringing content including ROMs for the current-gen Switch consoleSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce and older systems like the 3DS, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, and NES. Simply having ROM files isn’t illegal, but it’s something of a gray area. You’re probably in the clear if you make backups of games you already own. However, making those ROMs available for download is just asking for trouble, and Nintendo is famously strict about the use of its IP. 

The company’s lawsuit seeks $2 million in damages for trademark infringement across the site plus $150,000 per infringing file. That’s where the damages would really stack up. There are thousands of Nintendo ROMs on the site. Just the selection of Switch titles would push the damages into the tens of millions. In addition to damages, Nintendo demands that the website operator shut down the site and transfer ownership to Nintendo. 

It has been just over a year since Nintendo filed a lawsuit against LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co, both of which were owned Jacob Mathias. By late 2018, Mathias had agreed to a $12 million settlement with Nintendo. The sites temporarily went offline shortly after Nintendo filed suit, and later became apology pages. They are now completely offline. The fact that RomUniverse is still online and serving pirated games suggests the owner won’t be so quick to surrender. We could be looking at a more drawn-out case.

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Sidewalk Labs spins out urban data-gathering tool Replica into a company – gpgmail


Replica, the data-gathering tool created within Sidewalk Labs that maps the movement of people in cities, is now a company.

The newly formed company, which is headed by Nick Bowden, also announced Thursday it has raised $11 million in a Series A funding round from investors Innovation Endeavors, Firebrand Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. The capital will be used to accelerate Replica’s growth through new hires beyond its existing 13-person staff, expansion to new cities and investment in its technology.

Replica will remain connected to Sidewalk Labs, the smart city technology firm owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet. Both Sidewalk Labs and Innovation Endeavors will be on the company’s board.

Replica, which is headquartered in Kansas City, with an engineering office in San Francisco, plans to launch in several new regions. Replica is already working with Kansas City, Portland, Chicago and Sacramento, with more cities to come this year.

The Replica tool, which has drawn the ire of some privacy advocates, grew out of Model Lab, a project  started two years ago to investigate modeling as a way to address urban problems. Early work focused on meeting with public agencies throughout the world to learn more about the data, processes and other tools they used.

The Replica planning tool was born out what they discovered: Public agencies don’t have all the information needed to understand the link and interdependence between transportation and land use. The upshot is an incomplete picture of how people move within cities, leaving public agencies ill-equipped to make decisions about how land is used and what transportation is needed and where, the company says.

“Answering questions like who uses the street, in which way and why, are critical for city planners as they work to make transit and land use more efficient and sustainable,” Bowden wrote. “But current resources available to city planners to analyze people’s travel in urban areas are less than satisfactory.”

The Replica modeling tool uses de-identified mobile location data to give public agencies a comprehensive portrait of how, when and why people travel. Movement models are matched to a synthetic population, which has been created using samples of census demographic data to create a broad new data set that is statistically representative of the actual population. The result, Bowden says, is a model that is both privacy-sensitive and extremely useful for public agencies.

Bowden tried to quell privacy worries Thursday in a blog post, emphasizing that the data has been “de-identified,” meaning that an individual’s location data would be identifiable. The company says it’s not interested in the movement of individuals. Instead, the modeling tool is used to see and understand patterns of movement.

“For this reason, we only start with data that has been de-identified,” Bowden wrote Thursday. “This data is then used to train a travel behavior model — basically, a set of rules to represent the movement in a particular place.”


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