Leeds data consultancy helps Blenheim Palace keep visitors safe.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is helping to keep visitors safe and maintain social distancing by teaming up with Oakland Group, a Leeds-based data consultancy.

The project provides a real-time view of visitor footfall across Palace locations to enable staff to limit numbers in particular areas and help them maintain social distancing.

Oakland helps organisations to make better business decisions using their data through bespoke data platforms and data strategy and governance.

Blenheim has been working with an Oxford Brookes University PhD student, Yayoi Teramoto, to apply artificial intelligence (AI) and develop ‘smart tourism’ applications that can predict how many people will come to the site and how long they stay.

Oakland consolidated various datasets, including customer service, surveys, vehicle traffic and weather data, into a cloud-based Microsoft Azure data hub, so that the Blenheim team could extract the value from their data and improve the customer experience.

Blenheim’s head of innovation, David Green, said: “We are looking at two main areas. First, a new customer insight and prediction module is focused on predicting visitor numbers, enabling us to model for different scenarios, such as weather conditions and related visitor behaviour.

“Second, we are mapping out what the visitor journey through Blenheim looks like, from the moment they book a ticket online, to the moment they arrive and enjoy Blenheim Palace.”

The work has included specific measures to manage pandemic-related measures.

Hannah Varley-Fodden, a business consultant at Oakland, said: “Staff needed to carefully manage visitor numbers to meet COVID-19 constraints. We used data being captured using counters at different locations to provide a real-time view of visitor hot-spots so that staff could, if necessary, delay or divert people during, particularly busy periods.”

Robert Oakland, commercial director of Oakland Group, said: “Blenheim is a good example of how we’ve not only helped our customers to respond to an immediate business challenge, but also enabled them to make better use of their existing data giving them every advantage in the future.”


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