MyKnowledgeMap has recently collaborated with the Institute of Place Management (IPM), Manchester Metropolitan University, Cardiff University and retail intelligence specialists, Springboard, on a big data project which aims to help town councils use footfall data, alongside other data, to support town planning strategies and boost their local economies.
Funded by Innovate UK, the project involved the measurement of footfall (pedestrian traffic) coming into towns over a two-year period and used this data to identify typical behaviours that could be found within certain types of towns. By finding common trends within the data, the team identified footfall ‘signatures’ which public authorities and other organisations could use for future planning. Towns with similar footfall signatures could then begin to collaborate and share best practice.
Seven sample towns and cities were analysed during the two-year project, all varying in size and location across the UK. Cathy Parker, Professor of Marketing and Retail Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University and Chair of IPM explains, “Public authorities have been using out of date models to understand the behaviours within their towns, making it incredibly difficult for them to make a well-informed decision on any future development. By grouping towns based on these patterns, we can help place decision-makers with future planning that increases footfall and support the local economy.”
The project demonstrated that towns mostly fit into four signature categories, each with a typical footfall pattern over a 12-month period. These are:
Comparison town – Towns where people will mainly come into the area predominantly to shop. These will have a fairly consistent level of footfall from January to October, with a significant peak in footfall in November and December.
Multifunctional towns – Towns where people come for a mixture of everyday needs - shopping, accessing public transport, employment, education, services etc. These have consistent footfall throughout the year.
Holiday towns – Towns where people will mainly come to the area for a ‘holiday’ or a day out and will peak footfall over the summer periods.
Speciality towns – Town where heritage, culture or proximity to countryside are the main attraction and people will come to visit for the overall experience but for shopping too. Footfall peaks after Easter, over the summer, with a smaller peak before Christmas
As the technology partner, MyKnowledgeMap has supported the project by developing the platform where public authorities, partners and other users can access town footfall data, explore theirs and other town signatures, through the platform they can get more information on town planning strategies, best practice as well as generate ideas. Users are also able to delve further into the data and analyse footfall traffic on specific dates or at certain times to see if initiatives used in the past had any real benefit, conversely; they can also view the impact of interventions such as road works. To give further guidance, there is also a list of initiatives that could influence high street vitality linked to each town signature, each with a description of what it is, what it covers, how it might be implemented, and the level of difficulty associated with it.
As well as benefiting public authorities, the project will prove invaluable for commercial enterprises such as retailers, property developers and event planners, helping them to be better informed and implement improved plans and strategies.
Adam Doyle, Managing Director of MyKnowledgeMap explains the importance of making Big Data accessible - “For this project to be a success, these dashboards needed to be completely user friendly and easily accessed by a wide range of audiences and it’s safe to say that we are incredibly proud of the final product. This project has firmly put us on the map as data specialists as well as educational technologists and we can’t wait to see what else we can do in the future.”
For more information on the BDSU project, visit the website here.
More about IPM
Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management (IPM) is the international professional membership body and learned society that supports people who serve places, including place managers, policy makers, researchers and students. IPM professionals work at various scales, from neighbourhoods and Business Improvement Districts, to cities and regions. IPM is based at Manchester Metropolitan University, a partnership that allows ready access to world-leading academic expertise and research. The IPM publishes an official journal - the Journal of Place Management and Development, which is taken by over 2,000 institutions, internationally.