Spectator Movement Tracking and Monitoring During the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
P Jackson, G Wilson, SkyHigh plc; J Cusdin, Olympic Delivery Authority, UK
We will explain how Bluetooth technology was used to collect real time data on a mass scale in a new and innovative way during the Olympic and Paralympic Games London 2012.
Six years of planning and modelling helped London to prepare for the challenges of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Despite this, it was widely recognised that unpredictability and the sheer scale of the Games would require close monitoring of crowd numbers and behaviour in and around venues and transport hubs. We will explain how Bluetooth technology was used to collect real time data on a mass scale in a new and innovative way.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), working with event organisers and partners, went to extensive lengths to model and forecast spectator demand around venues and the transport network in preparation for the Games. These forecasts were based on research from previous events and assumptions about crowd numbers and behaviour based on the best information available at the time.
Despite this unprecedented level of preparation, there remained questions and concerns about the uncertainty of forecasts given the unique challenge of hosting the Games in London. Even relatively subtle variations in forecast and assumptions could have significant implications for crowd safety and management. Operators and event organisers therefore established an ‘analytics’ function to provide live monitoring of pedestrian numbers and behaviour during the Games. This would provide real time information for operators, but also validation and testing of the key assumptions underpinning planning for the Games. Regular reporting and trend analysis would provide crucial insights, flag up potential issues early and assess the impact of any variations on future days.
One of the main tools used by the analytics group was a Bluetooth monitoring system, installed at key locations at venues and stations in and around London. Such a system was relatively new and untested in a pedestrian environment on this scale, and presented numerous practical challenges to meet the tight timescales of the Games.
The system was used to estimate counts and flow rates at key locations, but also provided a range of other benefits. Journey times, queuing and dwell times, and more detailed analysis of movement and behaviour were possible using the system. This could be relayed and interpreted in near real time with a bespoke dashboard which was used in the Transport Co-ordination Centre, Main Operations Centre and various other operations centres. The information had far wider benefits than simply for transport, such as benefiting ‘last mile’ operations between transport hubs and venues, and security operations.
The system proved to be an invaluable tool for a range of purposes, and the sample rate of pedestrians who used Bluetooth was sufficient to estimate counts in a high volume environment. When used intelligently with other methods of crowd and pedestrian monitoring, an overall picture could be established. However, the nature of the system brought a range of other benefits which could provide an unprecedented insight into spectator behaviour.
This paper will explain the concept and use of Bluetooth monitoring for the Games in a large scale pedestrian environment. It will explain the practicalities and principles of the system, the benefits and drawbacks as well as how it was deployed and used during the Games.
Association for European Transport