Here is the press release:
As part of a unique partnership with the audiovisual creation and event company acTVty and the technology group Cronos, Orange Belgium is today launching a new mobile application which displays traffic in real time throughout Belgium. The operator thus leverages the experience it has gained in anonymizing customer data nationwide to design a simple and comprehensive heat map representing crowd density.
A few days before Christmas and the New Year, many consumers still flock to the shops to do their last minute purchases. But they want to get around in the safest way possible, avoiding crowds and respecting sanitary measures everywhere. Orange Belgium and its partners have responded to this urgent need by launching a free mobile application that provides information on traffic across the country, a few months after having already provided this type of information via the YouFlanders app.
Data provided by the population for the population
The anonymization and aggregation of the number of mobile connections to the Orange Belgium network makes it possible to extrapolate the result to all mobile users of all networks in this area and to convert the result into a simple color code, from ‘red ‘(very busy area) to the’ green ‘(quiet area with little activity). Like some weather applications, the analysis is done in almost real time, because the information arrives with a delay of 5 minutes maximum.
The density color of an area is calculated based on the average number of mobile connections over the last 30 minutes, compared to the maximum density recorded since June 2020. Also note: as Crowdsurfer does not rely on data generated by the application, the service does not need a large number of users to generate relevant data. The application also respects the privacy of its users since it simply reports the number of smartphones connected in an area.
Future features to predict attendance
This version of Crowdsurfer is the first and already allows users to consult the attendance of an area in order to plan their activities safely. The mobile app allows citizens to regain control of their security in the context of the fight against the Covid19 pandemic by preventing them from traveling to overcrowded areas without knowing it first. In the coming months, Orange Belgium, Cronos and acTVty intend to develop and refine the solution by offering traffic forecasts at specific times of the day and by aggregating new data sources and new meters in cities, areas. tourism, theme parks … in order to improve the granularity of forecasts.
Total respect for user privacy
The Crowdsurfer app fully complies with the regulations in force in terms of privacy protection, as it is based on traffic data from the Orange Belgium network. To put it simply, the app does not send any information from the user. The sources intended for analysis are aggregated, anonymized at the source and filtered by specific algorithms in order to guarantee compliance with the regulations on the protection of personal data at all times.
Werner De Laet, Chief Enterprise, Innovation and Wholesale Officer of Orange Belgium: “Judicious use of technology can help overcome societal challenges and the Crowdsurfer app illustrates this perfectly. In addition to using information from our network to avoid large gatherings, we give back to consumers the power to use the information they provide to us, while remaining firmly committed to the protection of their privacy. In addition, we believe that this type of tool will prove to be useful for the fight against the Covid19 pandemic, but also for many other applications in the future. ”
Sam Bambust, Managing Partner of Cronos, adds: “At Cronos, we are committed to always seeking opportunities to improve the daily lives of consumers. All the more so in this unprecedented period. Significant change cannot originate only in good ideas and intentions, which is why our thinkers, our doers and the techies of Cronos were happy to be associated with a project that would clearly contribute to a better and more secure future. “
Abe Wouters, Managing Partner of acTVty NV, said: “Just as we want to know the weather when we leave our home, information on population density should be part of our general knowledge of the world around us. We therefore want to make this knowledge accessible to all and we can achieve this, thanks to the collaboration with Orange Belgium, without having to sacrifice any personal freedom or privacy ”.