How do you measure the success of events? Do events increase revenue? How many people are there in the city during a large-scale event? Where do they park? These are some of the questions that Aalborg City Business Association gets answered using crowd-sourced data.
The Aalborg City Business Association has installed BlipTrack Wi-Fi device-detecting sensors in pedestrian areas of the Danish city to track visitor behaviour. The solution is used to monitor real-time pedestrian flow; visitor dwell time and movement patterns—from the moment they enter an area until they leave, and everywhere in between.
The data provides Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding of the impact of large-scale events, such as the annual Christmas market, Black Friday and The Tall Ships Races. Also, the data is used by the municipality for urban development, to optimise the flow of cars and people. And finally, shopkeepers can understand retail browsing and purchase patterns to streamline future retail operation, such as tweaking opening hours and allocate staff resources by demand.
“The solution works by detecting Wi-Fi devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, in the proximity of a Bliptrack sensor. Each device has a unique MAC address which is assigned to the device during manufacturing. These MAC addresses do not link to any individual user data, thus personal information is not revealed. As pedestrians, cyclists or cars passes the sensors, travel times, dwell times, average speeds and movement patterns become available, both in real-time and historically", explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo.
“If we are not able to measure the impact of events, such as the Christmas market, which costs over 1 million DKK ($160,000 US) to arrange, then the event is not justifiable, and perhaps money could be better utilised elsewhere,” Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association, said in a statement.
Aalborg City Business Association have also gathered other useful information during other events, such as at The Tall Ships Races. With visitors totalling 2.4 million, The Tall Ships Races constitute the most significant events in the history of Aalborg. Here the collected data showed that during the event, there were twice as many people in the city's shopping areas, which represents an increase that exceeds the Christmas shopping season. The data unfortunately also showed that there were many people present at times when the stores had closed. This information enables the Business Association to adjust opening hours when similar events are arranged.
"The data show that even when the municipality and sponsors spend a lot of money on these kind of events, the money comes back one way or another. It contributes to underpin retail, cafes and restaurants in the city, that needs to hire people," says Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association.
In the case of the Aalborg City Business Association, seven sensors were mounted, but in the Aalborg municipality, around 75 sensors are placed. These sensors measure travel times and flow on the highway, port and airport.
In addition to measuring traffic in cities, ports, ski resorts, amusement parks and at events around the world, the solution is successfully employed in optimisation efforts in more than 25 international airports, including JFK in New York, Cincinnati, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, Manchester, Copenhagen and Helsinki.