Heritage Village, Vineland, Ontario

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data mining  Data Mining Heritage Villagedetective




We have a few retired geologists and mining engineers in Heritage Village, but do we have any "data miners"?


You may be surprised to know that based on modern "data mining" technology, anybody in the world can find out all the shopping and lifestyle habits of the residents of Heritage Village, and those  neighbours who share our regional postal code.   Every time you use a credit card, acquire points on a loyalty card, click on a website  or give your postal code to a sales clerk, you are contributing to the vast amount of information on your family that is being accumulated by savvy marketing firms.


Companies have always gathered information on their target customers, but not until recently, has computer technology allowed them to extract useful information on their archived records.  "Data mining" is a new field of mathematical science, focused on extracting information from massive, complex databases residing with governments, universities, banks and corporations.   


One Toronto based company, has played a big role: Generation 5 Mathematical Technologies Inc, .founded in 1996  with a world-class team of  PhD-level mathematicians, statisticians and software developers. You can visit their GenVoy service on their web site, to get a small sampling of information extracted from terabytes of digital records, grouped by Canadian Postal Code:


Type in our postal code L0R 2C0 and you get an aerial photo of our village, plus a brief summary of who we are.  In their database, we are classed as Group E: Comfortable Nests (Types E032-37) which places us among 601,372 similar households representing 4.77% of all Canadian households.  Here's what they say about us collectively:

Collectively we are Group E Comfortable Nests :

  This group has a higher concentration of 55+ couples or widowed adults who are either empty nesters or have high-school and university aged children.  They have owned their 50s and 60s era single detached homes in the suburbs and urban fringe for years.  The group sports upper middle incomes with old age security, retirement benefits and investment income contributing to the total.  They have a solid array of investments and fairly low debt.  There is some sense that this is their time and they are going to spend a bit to make their family home look nice and update their wardrobes - things that sometimes took a back seat to raising a family in previous years.  The group contains a number of avid opera and symphony patrons. Overall they are fairly active, enjoying outdoor activities such as sailing, golf and gardening as well as that classic Canadian sport - curling.  The group is not strongly engaged with technology but does like to shop on-line.  They like to spoil their grandchildren with gifts from Toys 'R Us, Mastermind and Disney and are generous charitable givers.  There is a substantial long-established (pre-1970) European immigrant population in the group."   

When compared to the Canadian average, here is how our spending habits stack up:

  • Spend  more by credit card, but  less on mortgages. 
  • Spend on health care and recreation. 
  • Talk more on phone than average Canadian
  •  Less time on Internet and more TV.

Collected data can be correlated to  postal codes but there are information gaps that marketeers want to know, but we won't tell them.  To the rescue come obscure mathematics such as: Cluster analysis; Linear Regression and  Decision Trees. Mathematicians at Generation 5 use them in complex algorithms to teach computers to predict our character, our desires and behaviour.  Mathematical nerds and software geeks collaborate to teach computers "self-learning".  Computers search for patterns and make predictions before you even ask the question.  

 Advertisers pay millions for such nation-wide customer information.  But it is not just collective data that companies are gathering.  The current trend is to use the public's naivity regarding computers. Social networking sites and "free" e-mail accounts are a gold-mine of private information that the people post freely.  The evil technologies of viruses, spyware and trojan horses have now been harnessed by respected companies such as Google and Microsoft, to mine data from these sites and your computer,  pushing aside all concepts of privacy.   For example, FaceBook offers you more "Friends" in return for stealing your e-mail address book.  The invasion is international, so national privacy laws are no comfort.  Your own computer security software and your on-line behaviour is your best defense


Anti-spyware is your privacy protection.

Of course,  you don't need such technology to snoop,  just ask your neighbours, at the next coffee gathering:There's no point keeping secrets anymore, Computers are on to you.



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