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VisitWallonia and Orange Belgium introduce a real-time crowd measurement service

VisitWallonia and Orange Belgium introduce a real-time crowd measurement service

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VisitWallonia and Orange Belgium will soon be deploying an innovative tool that enables everyone to get real-time information on the crowds in Wallonia´s various tourist zones. After a first phase of tests, the goal is to permit citizens and tourists to benefit from Walloon tourist sites without concern. The tool will be made available free of charge during the summer season so people can optimally plan their visits and trips by profiting from less frequented zones.

Based on its experience in measuring crowds and population densities, notably during events like the South Fair in Brussels and after launching a first free app at the end of 2020, Orange Belgium concluded an agreement with the Walloon authorities to introduce an innovative solution that will enable everyone to access real-time information on the size of crowds and population density in the main Walloon tourist zones.

The tool works by anonymising and aggregating the number of mobile connections to the Orange Belgium network within a defined zone. This measurement is then extrapolated to all mobile users of all networks of this zone and the result is converted into a simple colour code, from ´red´ (highly-frequented zone) to ´green´ (calm zone without large crowds). A zone’s density colour is calculated on the basis of the average number of mobile connections during the course of the last 30 minutes, dynamically compared with preceding measurements. It is important to emphasise that the tool strictly respects the privacy of citizens, since no personal data is collected for its functioning and the results of the crowd measurements are systematically aggregated.

During an initial phase, VisitWallonia, the Walloon authorities and Orange Belgium will take advantage of the start of the 2021 summer holiday period to test the tool in order to refine the results and improve its functionalities. Its actual launch will then take place during the course of the summer. The partnership between the Walloon authorities and Orange Belgium fits within the framework of the ToP agreement, which seeks to encourage operators to invest in the coverage and the digital transition of the Walloon Region.

Xavier Pichon, CEO of Orange Belgium, said: “We are especially happy to be working together with the Walloon authorities on this project, which makes it possible to exploit a technological lever in order to improve the safety and comfort of citizens while at the same time supporting the activity of the Walloon tourism sector. This collaboration perfectly illustrates one of our fundamental beliefs: a responsible and intelligent use of technology can help us to meet social challenges.” 

Benoit Hucq, Director General of the Agence du Numérique, said: “This initiative once again demonstrates the opportunities offered by digital technologies for all economic sectors of Wallonia and particularly tourism. This app makes it possible to envisage the reopening of tourist attractions while guaranteeing the health safety of visitors. It is a concrete result of the ToP (Tax on Pylons) agreement between the Walloon Government and the operators and is symbolic of Digital Wallonia’s ambition to make our Region a smart and connected territory.” 

Valérie de Bue, Minister of the Civil Service, Tourism, Heritage and Road Safety, said: “This is a first initiative reflecting Wallonia’s determination to strengthen the digitalisation of the tourism sector so as to respond to the needs and expectations of an ever more connected clientele.”

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