Cellular data and the America’s Cup yacht race would seem to have nothing to do with each other. You probably shouldn’t even let your phone get near water because, well… One slip and your phone becomes an expensive paperweight. But the 2013 America’s Cup off the coast of San Francisco looks very different when viewed through the lens of a mobile device.
Not literally the camera lens.

But some interesting things happened from July to September during the race, and AirSage’s visibility of anonymous mobile signaling data in the vicinity is a story in itself.


Visualizing the America’s Cup Through Mobile Signals

Measuring spectators by activity on wireless networks

AirSage analyzed anonymous mobile signals in the San Francisco and America’s Cup spectator areas for the Opening Ceremony on the 4th of July, and compared that 24-hour activity to a normal “non-event” day one week later.

The spectator areas are shown in Figure A.

Figure A - click to enlarge

Figure B shows cellular activity data on July 11 (the “non-event” day).

Higher mobile device density — that is, more people with mobile devices making calls, texting, surfing the web — is in red, lower density in yellow.

On a non-event day, the highest densities are in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, nowhere near the event venues.

Figure B - click to enlarge

Comparing a “normal” day to an America’s Cup day

Let’s zoom in and contrast July 4 (opening ceremony) with July 11 (no America’s Cup event) (Figure C). You’ll notice higher activity in the America’s Cup event/San Francisco Wharf area, as well as on Alameda Island – locations of celebrations and street festivals. Not a lot of activity in the Oakland waterfront area, probably because July 4 fireworks were cancelled this year.

Figure C

Big day, big mobile density

Figure D shows mobile device activity levels during the week of July 4th, when the opening ceremony took place (yellow line), with a normal week (July 8-14) (green line).

Activity levels for the America’s Cup recreational areas along the waterfront explode (pun intended) during the opening ceremony and fireworks.

Figure D - click to enlarge

Night time is the right time

We also looked at hour-by-hour activity in the America’s Cup event area and saw a huge spike in activity in the evening hours, peaking at 9 p.m., as you would expect.

Figure E - click to enlarge

Day-by-day to the exciting finish

The race ended with an exciting win by the American team (click here to see it)! But the finals weren’t very close leading up to the final race (#19), and mobile activity in the viewing areas might imply that many lost some interest in rooting for the home team.
Figure F shows day-by day activity at the viewing area in September. The race numbers are shown above the graph bars, with the final race on Wednesday, September 25. It came down to New Zealand and the U.S. in the finals, and you can see the winner of each race under the race number.


Figure F

Big finish, big crowds

Check out the geographic density of spectators from every county in California compared to states across the rest of the country in Figure G.

Red is the highest density, and yellow is the lowest.

The crowds were there at the finish.

Figure G

As an aside, anonymous home and work (evening and day) cellular activity is typically delivered at the Census Block Group level, which is much more precise than measuring counties or states. (Census Block Groups generally contain 600-3,000 people, and there are roughly 220,000 block groups nationwide as of the 2010 Census).

Race over to our free webinar!

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into mobile device activity surrounding the America’s Cup – just one example of what AirSage Population Analytics can provide. Let us know how we can help you understand where and when people move.
The AirSage Product Team

P.S. If you’d like to learn more, please join us at a free upcoming webinar. You can sign up here.



                    — a pioneer in population analytics—is the largest provider of consumer locations and population movement intelligence in the U.S. Each day, AirSage uses patented technology to capture and analyze more than 15 billion anonymous, real-time, cellular-signal data points to identify travel patterns and transportation trends. Partnerships with the nation’s largest wireless carriers give AirSage exclusive access to data from more than 100 million mobile devices. Analyzed and aggregated, AirSage data provides actionable insights into where and when people travel and is transforming the transportation industry, commercial enterprises and a diverse range of industries. http://www.airsage.com