Barcelona IoT, big data projects help manage tourists at popular attractions

Barcelona IoT, big data projects help manage tourists at popular attractions

Barcelona IoT, big data projects help manage tourists at popular tourist attractions
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The city of Barcelona, Spain, has trialed Internet of Things (IoT) and big data technology to manage the visitors who flock each year to Gaudi’s world-renowned Sagrada Familia cathedral.

According to tech site, Computer Weekly, the host city of Mobile World Congress (MWC) has presented the results of the trial project connecting these technologies to manage the movement of tourists at the notoriously busy church and improve their experience.

The project, run by the Mobile World Capital’s d-LAB digital transformation initiative, measured how long visitors stayed in the area, whether they actually entered the church, and the busiest times for visiting.

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The trial

While the project was run through the d-LAB – a GMSA project that aims solve social issues using mobile and digital technology in Barcelona – the Catalonian state research and development association Eurecat assisted, as did network operator Orange.

The team sought to use IoT and big data to improve the flow of visitors at the church, with a particular focus on how this impacted the local environment and the city’s public transport system.

To kick off the project, the basic data of 15 million Orange customers were analyzed. The team used the data to identify profiles of various tourists, from holidaymakers to those primarily visiting the city for its nightlife.

With these profiles, the team analyzed tourists’ movements, and established that the most common routes were taken through Barcelona’s central Eixample, Ciutat Vella and Sants-Monjuic districts.

Related: Chicago implements CIVIQ smart city solution to boost citizen engagement

Enter IoT

Following the data-collection phase, a network of nine Wi-Fi, one GSM and three 3D sensors were placed around the Sagrada Familia. This network mapped out the main entry and exit points to the attraction.

According to the d-LAB website, most movement occurred at the pedestrian crossings at the intersection of Carrer de Mallorca and Carrer de Marina, on the church’s south-eastern corner.

The sensors also discovered that 50 percent of visitors stayed in the area for less than 40 minutes and just 20 percent entered the church, while the busiest times to visit fell between 10am and noon.

Related: AT&T signs deals to develop smart city capabilities in Ireland and beyond

Benefiting Barcelona tourists & management

d-LAB claims that this project has demonstrated that IoT and big data have become fundamental tools for managing tourists in the city and could help to better organise public services in areas of high visitor footfall to improve tourist flows.

From a tourist’s point of view, being able to access real-time information by notification means that they can now better plan a visit to avoid peak times without missing out on seeing a main attraction.

According to Mobile World Capital, two further projects are active in Barcelona.

The first, mConnect works to build secure, barrier-free digital environments that allow access to online public administration services; while the second, applies mConnect to the private health sector.

Supposedly it promotes the adoption of mConnect as a new standard of digital authentication in the healthcare field, so that, through a simple, private and secure password, the user can access a private personal health folder.

Too great to ignore?

Peter Pugh-Jones, UK & Ireland head of technology at analytics company SAS, told Internet of Business that the big data opportunities presented by IoT could revolutionize the way cities operate.

However, Pugh-Jones noted: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that the full potential of big data will only be realized once IoT data has also been merged into operational decision flows – just collecting data is not enough.

“Big data analytics solutions consuming data from the IoT can provide insights from data, even in real-time, to enable decision makers in business and government alike to reach meaningful conclusions and take action that will support a city’s success. Today, the benefits are too great to be ignored.”