A blogpost by Patrick Billens
In Belgium between June and September more than 400 festivals are organized. Thousands to millions of visitors will crawl the overcrowded streets and squares of our cities to enjoy music, dance, theater and terraces. Think of the Gentse Feesten, Summer of Antwerp or Les Francofolies in Spa.
In the media mayors, police commissioners and fire chiefs bravely – but with a very little heart - announce that as always everything is in place to make the festival a success. Frankly, they’re very, very scared A disaster during e. g. Marktrock literally means a real disaster!
However it is perfectly possible to predict through analytics how a crowd will behave during a festival. It suffices to combine historical and real-time data and even data that at first sight has nothing in common with the festival, to create benefits for both visitors, residents, organization and city council.
The city itself already generates large amounts of information: just think of the security cameras suspended at various points in the city, traffic sensors, reports of patrolling emergency services, etc. A new but rich source of information is the citizen. People have become more empowered. They will gladly share via social networks their displeasure, or appreciation for the festival and peripheral activities. Visitors to the festival use their smartphones to inform their friends where they are, share their experiences at a gig or upload pictures of what is happening around them on their social networks.
So there is a lot of data available a city council can benefit from to manage the festival better. By combining its historical data with information coming from traffic (how many people are on the road to this festival), weather (Sunshine? Rain?) and social sentiment analysis, it can apply analytics to guide the flux of visitors dynamically through the city (too many people in this street, choose alternative route), to better position its emergency services and to guarantee the public safety of visitors and residents. Based on analytics of this big data, a city council can predict events and thus take action pro-actively.
The organization of festivals can then use this data to optimize its own organization and logistics and provide visitors with a much better experience.
Pour all this information in one app, and the visitor is the king. He/she receives a program of the festival on which he/she can indicate his or her preferences. Based on that temporary profile visitors can receive customized information: when the next show starts, the quickest way to go there, where it is crowded, what alternative routes to use and where the beer costs half a euro.
Datanews recently calculated that on a normal day there is a traffic of 262 megabytes of data per square kilometer. At a festival that rises to 33,000 megabytes / km ². This is a wealth of information that one as a city council, organizer or visitor must cherish and use. The more data, the better the festival.