Why does a real estate owner want to count?

A real estate owner would like to have insight in the number of visitors and passenger flows of for example a shopping centre. This provides an image of the attractiveness of a particular shopping centre and for example the influence of spatial changes in the shopping centre of the effects of events, campaigns and opening hours.

Why does a retailer want to count?

A retailer would like to have insight in the number of customers to a store. In addition, it provides insight in the route customers take, allowing retailers to improve their instore customer service.

What about privacy?

PFM is a well-established company that deals with privacy carefully. They regularly review their services to the current regulations and monitor developments in this regard.

How does Wi-Fi work?

Wi-Fi sensors register all passers-by and / or visitors who have a device with them and have Wi-Fi and / or Bluetooth enabled (the device regularly sends probe requests). Data we process consists of sensor ID, date and time, MAC address and signal strength. See more in the video below. 


I live in the city centre, what is being done with my information?

PFM counts the number of passengers in and around shops and shopping centers. The sensors therefore have an automatic filter to prevent residents from taking part in the counts. PFM knows that signals from residents are measured mainly before and after shop opening hours. Therefore, PFM assumes that when the same signal is seen twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, this is a signal from a resident. These signals are automatically filtered out every day. Therefore, if you live near a counting point, you will not be included in the counts.

What can you see based on these counts?

Based on the wifi-signals, information is obtained about the number of unique passages in a shop / shopping center, the route of passengers, the duration of stay (within the sensor network) and how often they return. The measuring systems of PFM do not capture other data from mobile devices.

What do we know later?

PFM counts the crowd and makes aggregated reports without the possibility of any link with individual personal data. No MAC addresses are delivered to customers. All edits are completely anonymous, similar to how, for example, traffic jams are measured daily. In addition, the required MAC addresses for these calculations are automatically encrypted so that a link to an individual person is impossible.


Everybody has the possibility to unsubscribe the MAC address of their mobile device via an opt-out register. After this, these MAC addresses will no longer be counted and included in research and analyses. Since PFM decided to join PrivacySIG, there is a European opt-out register. If you opt-out here, your MAC address will no longer be counted and included in research and analyses by all members of PrivacySIG (at this moment there are 9 companies). Read more about PrivacySIG or opt-out here.     

You can find the information about your MAC address with Android: Settings, About Phone, Status, Wi-Fi Mac address. With an iPhone: Settings, Info, Wi-Fi address.

Can the sensors cause malfunction or interfere with other (medical) equipment?

The PFM sensors only capture the presence of wifi-signals from mobile devices. They do not send out any signals. As far as is known, there is therefore no interference or disturbance of other (medical) equipment.

Who is counting?

The counts are performed by PFM. Since 1984, PFM has provided systems that count and track visitors of shops and shopping centres.


We value the careful handling of client and personal-, passers-by- and/or visitor data. We inform you about this in our Privacy Statement. Besides we would like to inform you about the possibility to unsubscribe the MAC-Address of your mobile device via an opt-out register. After this, your MAC addresses will no longer be counted and included in research and analyses.  We use an opt-out register for this.

Your MAC address can usually be found in the information screen about your device under the settings menu.

PFM recently joined PrivacySIG. The ‘Privacy Special Interest Group’ is a non profit organisation consisting of companies (9 at the moment) which are developing or involved in the next generation of visitor analytics. PrivacySIG has developed a common "Code of Conduct" which is an agreement between all members to follow common rules to ensure and improve the privacy of individuals. PrivacySIG has a European opt-out register. Entering your MAC address here means that you cannot be counted or included in research and analyses by any of the participating companies.