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WeChat is the biggest talking point when it comes to monetizing messaging and calling apps.

On many occasions, pundits have likened the efforts of Facebook as far as monetizing Messenger and WhatsApp to what WeChat is currently doing in the greater region of China.

This Chinese-based application is stopping at nothing until its name is sung in the same manner as it is sung in the app’s mother region. It keeps coming in with new features that are usually aimed at totally changing the behaviors of consumers, for instance, publisher micropayments, and taxi-booking services.

There is a new feature thatwas released towards the end of September, and it’s known as WeChat Heat Maps. Using this feature, the more than 500 million people who use this application can easily tell where crowds are gathering.

WeChat now measures foot traffic

Mapping applications have in the past been heavily associated with matters of traffic. However, WeChat is willing to go beyond this scope and add a feature that lets not just users, but also the government to tell when crowds of people start gathering in certain places. The update is currently available in Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, where users can enter the name of a location and a heat map with details of the area’s foot traffic shows up for the user to see.

The application will also include data about the density of the crowd in the entered location for the entire day as well as the week before this date.

To access the feature, go to WeChat’s City Services tab, where you will also come across other services such as bill payment, car booking as well as bus schedules. These services are only available in China.

As of now, it is not clear how WeChat Heat Maps work in thecollection of human traffic data, however, there are reports that Tencent, the company behind this chat app is making use of location-sensing technology on the app to estimate the foot traffic of specific areas.

China has a billion smartphone owners

WeChat has over 600 million users, which is reportedly two-thirds of the entire smartphone user base in China. There are high chances that the new WeChat Heat Maps feature is accurate. It is a welcome feature for consumers as they can easily tell the places to avoid and those they can visit. The same feature can also be leveraged by event organizers and advertisers.

As noted earlier, the new WeChat feature can also be utilized by government agencies thanks to the fact that the Chinese government already can access whatever it wants from this chat app. Since the app uses location-tracking technology, it is easy for security agents to know of areas with protests, mass incidents, tourist spots and other incidences that draw heavy foot traffic.