Big Data and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies are powerful tools to enhance the knowledge about activities and behavior of tourists in frequently visited areas of the city. The information collected can be used to improve the management of the flow of visitors and to assist in decision making related to public services at the city council level. However, the purpose of using these tools is to transform the knowledge they provide into tangible benefits for both local residents and visitors.
Barcelona has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and every year the number of visitors is growing. As a result, many urban challenges have arisen and they need to be managed in order to minimize the possible negative impact of tourism on the cityand its citizens as well as to enhance and distribute its benefits beyond the areas closer to touristic attractions.
Eurecat developed, together with Barcelona City Council, Mobile World Capital Barcelona, GSM and Orange, the BCN Tourism Management Big Data & IoT in Action project. This project focused on how IoT & Big Data technologies can improve all activities of management, decision making and planning related to tourism undertaken by the local authorities. Specifically, the project showcased how multiple local data sources, combined with data from a telco operator can be used to understand visitors’ mobility patterns around the Sagrada Familia area.
In order to analyze the profile of visitors, their behavior and mobility patterns in the area, different WiFi sensors, GSM and 3D cameras were combined and deployed at the street level with the objective to get real-time knowledge of mobility flows around the temple and be able to improve the tourist offer in terms of trips’ management, schedules or offers based on the origin or profile of the visitor.
An algorithm allowed to filter which of these people would be tourists, discarding those that pass through the area for less than ten minutes or those who do it repeatedly for a period of more than 7 days.
The results of the analysis indicate that 80% of the people detected in the monitored area are there for less than 100 minutes, while the rest had a longer visit, presumably because they also visited the interior of the basilica. Among those who only visit the temple’s surroundings, 50% spend less than 40 minutes to do it, and 20% stay between 10 and 20 minutes.
The busiest hours are between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m., a pattern consistent for the majority of the week days. Fridays, however, are more similar to Saturdays and Sundays, when the number of visits reaches the peak during the afternoon.
Regarding the profile of the people detected in the area - without discrimination between tourists or residents - 24% are foreign, with France, Italy and the United Kingdom being the main origins detected. Regarding state-owned provinces, excluding the province of Barcelona, Madrid leads the number of visitors, with 36.7%.
The project is potentially replicable to other high-frequented spaces, allowing to improve the governance of tourism and manage its impact on the urban network.