Sunday April 7, 2019 was a great day for Flemish people as the 103rd Tour of Flanders took place. As always, there were a lot of supporters along the Flemish roads to watch the cyclists give their best.
This year, there was something new. Telecom operator Proximus used mobile phone signals from the spectators to track the movement of the masses. This is useful for the police so they can have a good insight into where most of the people are located. In that way, they can get reinforcements where needed in real-time.
“For us it is very important to have accurate data of the crowd so we can perfectly coordinate our security teams”
Tom De Bleeckere – Stad Oudenaarde
To do so, they use a heatmap. The heatmap shows the data from those mobile phone signals in order to track where most people are located. Places with a big population have a warmer color (eg. Red) and places with fewer people generating mobile phone signals have colder colors on the map (eg. Blue or green).
It’s not the first time that Proximus used mobile phone signals to track the movements of a crowd but it has never been on this scale. This is the biggest real-time crowd management they ever did and that has ever been measured in Belgium. Approximately 800.000 people have been tracked by their mobile phone signals. Note that this is all aggregated data, which means that mobile phone signals are not being tracked individually.
Do you want to know more about this project? Watch the video on the Belgian news site VRT News (in Dutch).
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