Food and drink festival uses smartphone scanner tech for crowd safety

The organisers of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival have used technology from Innotech Concepts and Libelium to keep attendees moving freely and safely around the event.

Held annually in the Greater Manchester town, the Bolton Food and Drink Festival gives attendees the chance to taste cuisine from all over the world. Last summer, over the August Bank Holiday, it broke all previous records, attracting 267,000 visitors. But pulling in such numbers comes with its own challenges in terms of keeping attendees moving around, freely and safely. 

Looking for a better way to understand and manage the crowds, the festival organisers enlisted the support of Innotech Concepts on a project focused on visitor data monitoring. The Castleford, West Yorkshire-based start-up specialises in data collection for the transport and events sectors, with an emphasis on areas including connectivity, public safety and evacuation. 

Innotech provided the event’s management team with sensor specialist Libelium’s Meshlium IoT platform, to study the behaviour and activities of visitors in real time, based on detection of smartphones via the Meshlium Scanner. 

Food and drink festival uses smartphone scanner tech for crowd safety

(Credit: Libelium)

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Data to the rescue

Two connected scanners were installed at the main entrance of the event venue and a third was deployed in the car park, as a means of monitoring the location, length of stay and individual journey routes of visitors. These scanned for smartphones every 15 minutes via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

To protect customers’ identifies, all information was kept anonymous and sent over a secure 4G network to Innotech’s proprietary analysis platform, Innotech Insights Crowded. Here, data can be transformed into visual charts to convey key data more easily, but the platform also offers a raw data download option, enabling users to slice and dice data in the ways that most interest them. 

From this, the event’s organiser were able to establish a number of metrics: duration of stay; visitor volume per location; visitor volume per day; most popular locations; most popular individual and group routes; total visitors.

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