Location Based Technologies at Festivals

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With the sun shining in London (for now), festival season is here! From Glastonbury to Bestival, we believe location technologies can help make festivals more engaging, enjoyable and even more popular.

Festivals are usually pretty large, and outdoors. So you could argue, “Hey! GPS works well outdoors, right?”. Think again. Unfortunately, when you have such a large mass of people in one place, with trees and technology all over the place, the GPS signal is often unreliable. When combined with the fact that having too many people can stop data connections working, people can’t communicate through devices or navigate their way around at all.

With Bluetooth® beacons distributed around the festival space there are suddenly a number of exciting new features available to users, such as:

  • Being able to locate friends with one click (when there is no signal)
  • Messaging friends even when there is no internet connection
  • Locate different stages and navigate to them
  • Contextual notifications based on things such as “Second act starting in 2 minutes, come to stage 4”. This way, festivalgoers don’t have to miss their favourite acts!
  • Push offers for bars and food stalls
  • Understand the busy and quiet areas of the festival

One might argue that all these features will drain the festivalgoers smartphone battery, however bluetooth low energy actually drains very little battery – much less than other apps that are likely to be used (e.g. snapchat, instagram…) In addition to this, festivals are installing many more phone charging stations to keep the crowd going, so we think it is becoming less of an issue.


(as seen on the BBC)

On the other hand, we also have the festival organisers themselves. With location based technologies such as Pointr, they can collect valuable data about concertgoers for the benefit of safety, revenue and delivering a better festival. What stage did they spend most of their time in, how did they move around the space, how often were the bars and food stands visited, where were the bottlenecks and so on…

A great example was the Bonnaroo festival, where they tracked the most popular stage via iBeacons, the average length people spent in specific areas of the festival (including the VIP areas), as well as some more standard stuff, like the number of notifications each device received. The image above shows a heatmap of festival attendees based on the iBeacons distributed.


In addition to the intelligence and insight generated from the data, the festival organisers can use the technology to deliver contextual messages with a promotional/commercial purpose.

Another great example would be the SXSW festival, where they had over 1,000 bluetooth beacons across Austin, Texas to help attendees make personal connections with each other. Through the bluetooth signals the users could see nearby attendees, and if they felt like networking they could even introduce themselves with a quick message.

Laura Mac Darby, left, and Emer Ryam, both from Dublin, Ireland, attend the free concert at Auditorium Shores headlined by Spoon at SXSW on Thursday, March 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)

Finally, to add to the whole location experience through a content angle, one technology we believe will really change the game in the festivals industry is that of Periscope. With it, you can share the festival experience with your friends who were unable to get tickets. With it, you can choose to share your livestream with a select few or anyone and everyone, and thus broadcast what is happening in your exact location all around the world.


Location technologies are trickling into our daily activities, and it’s just the beginning.

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