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How Crowded Was Eclipse 2017?

Some of the largest increases in crowd clusters occurred in Nashville, Kansas City and St. Louis, according to data from Skyhook Wireless.

Eclipse “mania” gripped the United States from coast-to-coast last week, sparking spirited social media discussions over proper eyewear and even a revisiting of Bonnie Tyler’s ’80s hit on streaming services.

But the big news was how groups of people gathered in open spaces to get a real, as opposed to virtual, experience of the first total eclipse in the U.S. since 1979.

Geo-data specialist Skyhook Wireless analyzed crowds by using  US Census “block groups,” which is the smallest geographical unit for which the bureau publishes full demographic data. Each block group contains between 600 and 3,000 people.

There are around 220,000 block groups in the US and around 10,000 of them went dark within the path of totality during the eclipse on Monday.

There was a large increase in crowd density in areas inside or close to the “totality path,” as seen below.

The red and yellow areas in the map above represents increased crowd density during the eclipse.

“Our device activity numbers show the population in the totality swath rose significantly,” Skyhook says in a blog post. “The largest increases were seen in Nashville, Kansas City and St. Louis. Also as predicted, national parks, preserves and monuments were popular destinations for viewing the eclipse. Some of the most heavily visited ones were Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Idaho, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.”

Among the other findings Skyhook noticed during the eclipse:

  • Overall, activity across the totality path was up 34 percent compared to the previous Monday.
  • Within a two hour drive of the path, foot traffic was up 23 percent.
  • While we saw people travel from far and wide, there were differences in patterns of movement north and south of the path of totality. We found that states to the south, specifically Florida, Texas and California, had more in-migration on the day of the eclipse than the largest states in the north, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan did.

“The value of location data cannot be understated,” says Kanish Sharma, manager, product marketing at Skyhook. “Leveraging mobile device data to understand people’s behaviors and brand preferences fuels marketers with relevant and actionable data for engaging the right audiences.

“A 360-degree view of the audience increases the value of an ad or push notification sent to them,” Sharma adds. “Using location to encourage mobile engagement has a direct and positive impact on both the brand’s influence and their bottom line.”