In December 2015, In the Company of Huskies created a new website that tells Dubliners the very best times to do their Christmas shopping. The website, isdublinbusy.com works by pulling in live data from a range of different sources and displaying it in a way shoppers will understand and find useful. The website interprets and relays a variety of information ranging from Dublin Bike availability and car park spaces, to public transport tweets and M50 journey times so that people can efficiently plan their shopping trips.
The aim of the project was to highlight the effectiveness of data driven marketing campaigns and to promote our data and technical services, but mostly it was created to deliver a practical utility for the people of Dublin in a fun and novel way.
We identified multiple data sources, both historic and real-time, which could potentially help shoppers. The amazing thing is that all these data sources are available as Open Data. These datasets were provided by Dublin City Council, Dublin City BID, Dublinked.ie and Transport Infrastructure Ireland. We brought all of these disconnected data sources together into one site.
The historic data consisted of city centre footfall figures recorded from 2007-2013. Following a detailed data analysis, we were able to predict the likelihood of the city being busy.
The real-time data existed in multiple different formats and locations across the web. The real-time data allowed us to give an accurate live status of the city so people could plan their journeys. The live data sets consisted of:
• Car cark availability
• Dublin bikes availability (both free bikes & free stands)
• M50 journey times
• Live traffic cameras
• Public Transport Tweets
We were able to describe the overall status of Dublin by using comments such as: “Town is as empty as Kevin’s house in Home Alone.” “Town is stuffed tighter than a turkey.”
The campaign consisted of:
• An infographic listing out the best and worst predicted times to shop based on historical city centre footfall data.
• A website that presented both the infographic and visual representations of the real-time data to the public.
We used design to make the data useful and approachable for the user. The illustration style is friendly, taking inspiration from the local Dublin cityscape and from seasonal imagery. The illustrations are rendered in a simple, cheerful way that signposts the clear vertical flow through the various data sources and provides visual shorthand for what the content of the data is.
Surprisingly, the supposed “Day of Rest” still lives up to its name amongst Dubliners. Sunday is, on average, the least busy day in December to buy your loved-ones their presents, especially between the hours of 8pm and 9pm.The early bird catches the worm, with morning risers enjoying a lull in activity between 9am and 11am, statistically the quietest hours of the traditional 9-6 day. But fear not, if you can’t manage to drag yourself out of bed bright and early, extended Christmas opening hours post-7pm are even quieter still.
The study also quashes the urban legend of 8th December, affectionately known as “Culchie Shopping Day”, which we can officially confirm is NOT the busiest shopping day of the year. That honour belongs to the manic 21st day of December. Bonafide last-minuters will know that the crowds are at their lowest on Christmas Eve, but we suggest a less risky approach. Plan your visit to the city centre on the next quietest days of December, the 2nd, 6th and 1st respectively.
Since going live at the start of December, the website went viral over the first few weeks of December appearing across the Irish media in places like The Irish Mirror, The Irish Times, Joe.ie, Her.ie, The Journal, U Magazine, Silicon Republic and Lovin’ Dublin. The people of Dublin also showed their appreciation for the handy site on social media, with one Twitter user hailing it as “possibly the best website ever invented ever!” Dublinked.ie, the open data platform from where the data sources originated are now featuring isdublinbusy.com as a case study to show the amazing things that open data can be used for. It’s hoped that with a case study such as this it may help convince other organisations to distribute their data sources to the public for further social innovations.
On Twitter, we had an estimated reach of 2.1 million, thanks to the public interest in this campaign, and because of posts from key accounts such as @spin1038 @JOEdotie @IrishTimes @brownthomas @IrishMirror @siliconrepublic @OnlineRetail @LiveDrive .
The campaign also proved very popular as featured pieces on radio stations across both local and national stations. Two members of the agency project team were invited to appear on various radio stations throughout December to talk about the website and about Open Data. Our team spoke on the ‘Down to Business’ show on Newstalk, Spin 103.8, Sunshine FM, Dublin City FM and Near FM.
Our Head of Data was asked to be a speaker at the OMiG Digital Summit after the organisers heard about the campaign and it’s use of Open Data.
A key success of the project was the fact that the percentage of return visitors was much higher than expected, and this has even followed into 2016 as people are still using the site to find out if Dublin is busy. Due to it’s persistent popularity the website is currently being reskinned with a non-Christmas design. This proved that the website was indeed a utility that people can use to help them in an aspect of their digital life.