Measuring your Christmas Events

‘Tis the season… Our towns and cities are ramping up for Christmas, and what better way to bring in the visitors than an extravaganza of entertainment, festivities and Christmas Lights?

However, these extraordinary events are often trickier than usual to measure. Here are some ‘Top Tips’ for things to look out for and consider when counting your Christmas visitors…

Christmas Lights Switch-on, as an example, is good for the numbers but often shows poorly on footfall counters, and for a simple reason: these devices measure movement, but in a busy high street people stand in place waiting for the countdown.

You may also find that – with main routes congested – people will find back roads, rat-runs and passages that are not typically measured as the main streets would be.

Footfall and foot flow

Some footfall counters work in different ways, across wider areas which might give better results, and it’s worth checking with your provider exactly how the figures are obtained.

In any case – position is important. Any counter midway along the street will likely only count half of your visitors (the other half simply can’t get close enough to be counted!).

Wi-fi (phone) based counting typically performs better for these types of events, and town-wide networks can ensure good coverage, irrespective of where people move or stand.

Whichever technology you might use, check with the provider if they can deal with such numbers of people. Christmas is already a busy time, and switch-on events typically have the greatest turnouts of the year.

The camera never lies…

Take plenty of crowd photos – ideally with a good camera. Not only are they good for press publicity, but they tell us more about crowd density: how many and where they are.

The best photos are from a good height, so people can be counted individually, and will cover the entire area you want to survey. This can then be used to further refine the estimates.

External data sources

Police and security teams may also come up with their own estimates, based on years of experience with crowd management. These should also be incorporated.

Finally, take all the figures into account and compare. Ideally, they’ll agree, but often there will be some discrepancies. Consider each source in turn, and its strengths and weaknesses in line with the above.

Ideally, all relevant sources of data should be considered to get a more accurate visitor count. No single system is perfect, so combining data typically improves our confidence in the results.

With those tips in mind, enjoy your Christmas events and fingers crossed for plenty of visitors!

Counting your Christmas visitors? Top tips from Sven:

  • Look for multiple sources of data.
  • Check sensor locations and consider side streets.
  • Take lots of photos
  • Check how your sensors perform for large crowds.