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Coming attraction: The wisdom of the crowd

last updated 08 May 2018

Cosmiqo's predictive platform provides insights that help theme park operators manage crowds and enhance the visitor experience.

Sentosa

Cosmiqo's QSense, a self-learning simulation engine that gathers and analyses visitorship data, is deployed on Sentosa. (Photo: Haakon S. Krohn)

Sentosa

Predictive data analytics can help manage long queues at Sentosa's popular attractions. (Photo: Chensiyuan)

By Janice Lin

 

Everyone loves visiting amusement parks, but one thing that is likely to ruin the fun are long queues and packed venues.

For park owners, unhappy guests that result from overcrowding can translate into lower visitorship, which in turn affects their bottom line.

That's where data analytics can help.

Staying one step ahead of the crowd

Enter Cosmiqo, an analytics firm that aims to help tackle overcrowding.

Founded in 2013, the company builds sensor-based platforms and predictive engines to help firms in industries like tourism streamline their operations and simplify their decision-making processes.

One such solution they have developed is QSense, a self-learning simulation engine that gathers and analyses visitorship data at different parts of its deployment area at different times of the day. It was field-tested on the resort island of Sentosa.

Cosmiqo

A screenshot of Cosmiqo's website.

This enables QSense to predict an hour ahead of time where and when crowds will form at various entrances and attractions across the island.

This, in turn, allows the system to forecast queueing times at specific attractions on the island.

QSense’s platform addresses key issues that concern most theme parks, island resorts and shopping malls — those of visitorship and crowd management — and enables them to decide how best to distribute their resources to tackle them, said Dr Koh Niak Wu, Cosmiqo’s founder.

“The gap that we are addressing, in broad terms, is visibility, the lack of which results in poor planning and execution based on ‘guesstimates’,” he said. He added that in an uncertain environment, decisions that are anchored on data-driven insights lower risk and raises the certainty of gain.

According to QSense’s data, visitorship at Sentosa is highest at 7pm on an average day, with the Wings of Time attraction drawing the most guests.

Meanwhile, queueing times for the Tiger Sky Tower are on average longer than for other attractions, with the length of time longest in the afternoon.  

QSense was developed as an entry for a challenge posed in August 2016 by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (then known as the Infocomm Development Authority, or IDA) in partnership with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC).

It was part of the IDA-SDC Smart Sentosa Integrated Operations (iOPs@Sentosa) Innovation Challenge. The aim was to invite tech firms like Cosmiqo to prototype innovations that could help improve guest experience and operational efficiency at the island resort.

Development of QSense began in the first quarter of 2017, taking six months to be ready for deployment.

Cosmiqo

When's the best time to go? Take a cue from Qsense's data. (Image: Cosmiqo's website)

Getting the most out of resources

QSense’s data gives the operations management at Sentosa – which brought in a total of 19.3 million guests in FY2016/17 – the ability to gauge which attraction is more crowded and thus allocate more staff in the area to manage visitors.

A high footfall at a specific point of interest is an indication that management should deploy more staff there, or think about ways to effectively manage guests so as to bring about a more enjoyable visit.

Conversely, a consistently low visitorship signals that a particular attraction could be unpopular – and may require a strategic rethink to draw guests again.

“Operationally, our solution allows Sentosa to reallocate manpower to areas which require them more, hence increasing the utilisation of resources.

For visitors, the forecasts enable them to plan their itinerary throughout their visit hence improving the guest experience,” said Dr Koh.

Sentosa Map Cosmiqo

Colour-coded indicators make it easy to 'see' the hourly crowd levels at the attractions. Red means 'very crowded'. (Image: Cosmiqo's website)

Data-driven insights for a digital economy

Since founding Cosmiqo, Dr Koh has discovered that many companies he has spoken to do not realise the importance of data-driven insights to survive an increasingly digital economy.

“We know that the gaps are actually visible to everyone, but no one wants to deal with it, and so they pretend it is not there. This cognitive bias, unfortunately, is omnipresent, and is a way to lose our competitiveness as a nation and as a people,” he said.

To this end, the company has continued to invest heavily in creating awareness on how leveraging simple technologies can help improve a country's competitive advantage.

This includes conducting talks in not only Singapore, but also countries like Indonesia, Iran and Taiwan, on topics such as data acquisition and data analytics.

Going forward, Cosmiqo plans to work with companies in the supply chain and logistics industry.

The goal, as ever, is to “simplify the decision-making process in a world that can do with a little less complexity”, said Dr Koh.

 

Photo Credit:
1. Main image of Merlion Sentosa (top of page) by Haakon S. Krohn licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
2. Image of Sentosa aerial shot by Chensiyuan licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.


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