July 6, AtoZForex - China's largest search engine, Baidu retrieves on a daily basis 25 billion location requests and data points from around 700 million users. Hence, it is not a surprise that Baidu has taken on a large scale project to design the new Chinese economic indicators. According to Wu Haishan, who is a senior data scientist at the company, the browser’s vast user base “represents a good portion of Chinese consumer behavior”.
The largest search engine for websites in China was established in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu, while is currently headquartered in Beijing. Baidu was the first Chinese company to be listed in NASDAQ-100 index and also ranked 4th in the most visited websites in 2015.
Doubts about the current economic indicators
According to experts, the data reported by the National Bureau of Statistics of China have always been doubtful. Although, the Bureau of Statistics covers almost everything ranging from factory activity to economic growth it usually uses proxy measures to define how healthy the economy is. Considering the fact that China is announcing its slowest annual economic growth in the past 25 years, the need to access the reliable data is rising and becoming crucial.
Which measures Baidu tracks?
Among the indicators that are tracked by Baidu are consumer expenditure and employment. The company measures it by collecting the information from users, e.g. what they purchase/ search for online. Wu Haishan anticipates that everyone will be able to access this data soon via online dashboards.
Baidu is also considering other ways how the data can be utilized, instead of only serving as a way to better understand the economic situation in China.
Possibilities of the New Chinese economic indicators
As an option, Baidu can use the search results it gets on Baidu Map to forecast the number of people in any specific area in advance. Consequently, it might prevent the potential crowd disasters like the one that happened on New Year's Eve in Shanghai and killed 36 people.
Furthermore, the information can be very valuable for business, e.g. “if you're looking to open a store, one of the most important questions to answer is, 'Where are my customers?” Wu said. The company’s data will provide you with such information as age if local demands are being fulfilled, income, etc. For instance, if you want to open a coffee shop you will be able to check which places get the most search requests for coffee and based on it pick the right location for your business.
Facebook and other large companies are already using its data in order to have a fuller understanding of consumer needs/ behavior by selling targeted ads. Nevertheless, there are still some concerns in regards to the user's privacy and cybersecurity. In March, top Chinese web browsers which could make a user’s private information vulnerable were marked as lacking security by a research group that focuses on tech and human rights.
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