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WiFi connection data

We are trialling five innovative pilot projects in our parks and open spaces from 3 – 17 June 2019 as part of Amazing Spaces, Smart Places project

The aim of the projects is to explore how data and innovative technologies can help us manage our parks and open spaces, ensuring they are safe, accessible and enjoyed by all.

Some of our projects will be using anonymous WiFi connection data to find out how many people are visiting the areas, when and where.

What is a MAC address?

When a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, has WiFi enabled, the device will continually search for a WiFi network to connect to. When searching for a WiFi network, the device sends out a probing request which contains an identifier specific to that device known as a Media Access Control (MAC) address.

Why are we collecting MAC addresses?

If you are near a WiFi access point in one of our pilot project trial areas, and have WiFi enabled, we will collect device MAC addresses to help us better understand how our parks and open spaces are being used and to plan improvements. We will be able to tell how many people are visiting the area and when, including after hours when our parks are closed.

Will Belfast City Council be able to identify me?

No, we will not be able to identify any individuals. Each MAC address collected during the pilot projects will be de-personalised (pseudonymised) and encrypted to prevent the identification of the original MAC address and associated device. 

Can I opt out of my data being collected?

Yes. If you do not want us to collect your device’s MAC address, you can either turn off the WiFi on your device or put the device in airplane mode whilst visiting one of our pilot project trial areas. Once you have left the area, you can simply switch your WiFi back on or turn airplane mode off.

Can I request a copy of my data?

As we will not be able to identify the original MAC address, because we have de-personalised the data, we will not be able to identify you and so cannot provide a copy of the WiFi data generated by your device.

Which parks and open spaces are included in the WiFi connection data pilot projects?

More information

Please contact Community Safety on 028 9027 0469 or email envhealth@belfastcity.gov.uk for more information about any of these projects.