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IoT Helps Manage Tourist Hotspots in Pilot Program

The pilot project in Scotland uses visitor-monitoring sensors and hopes to provide an example of how IoT can be used for the tourism and hospitality industry

Scarlett Evans

December 27, 2023

2 Min Read
CENSIS' sensors
CENSIS

Visitor-monitoring sensors are helping support hospitality and tourism businesses on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in a pilot project hoped to provide a blueprint for other heritage sites around the world.

The sensors, developed by CENSIS – Scotland’s innovation center for sensing, imaging and IoT technologies – help the area’s tourism board better understand patterns in visitor numbers, as well as predict and prepare for busy or slow periods.

The pilot system has been installed at the Calanais Stones, a heritage site of 5,000-year-old stones that attract more than 130,000 visitors each year.

Tourism in the region is also set to see a boom next year, with the completion of a $76.2 million terminal allowing larger cruise ships to berth in the Stornoway port. The visitor sensor project is being established to “maximize the economic opportunity” of the new terminal.

The sensors collect information about the number of people attending the site at any one time, with data on this then displayed via an app-based dashboard where the Calanais team can monitor numbers in real-time, identify patterns and control crowds.

If the sensors identify a particularly busy time, for example, visitors could be advised to visit the attraction at a quieter point of the day.

“The aim of this project is to help the Calanais team gain a better understanding of visitor numbers at one of its most popular attractions, enabling businesses to plan ahead for staffing, stock and opening hours,” said Ally Longmuir, CENSIS’ business development manager. “This technology can provide accurate real-time data that will undoubtedly support the booming tourism industry in the islands, and we’ve seen success from similar initiatives in the past involving sites on the West Highland Way. 

“We hope to expand the initiative to cover additional sites that will paint a more detailed picture of how visitors are interacting with the Islands key heritage sites.” 

“This is a great example of a technology driven innovation project in the tourism sector adopting a data driven approach to understanding and managing visitor numbers to enable strategies to be developed to maintain the quality of the visitor experience whilst managing infrastructure capabilities across the island and taking into consideration environmental factors,” said John Mackenzie, Isle of Lewis’ Highlands and Islands Enterprise senior development manager. “This is a great example of IOT, sensing and data being used to help achieve a specific output.”

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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