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Newcastle Council upgrades How Busy Is Toon website


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Newcastle City Council has relaunched its How Busy Is Toon website - which monitors footfall in the city centre - with a collection of new features.

It has also indicated that it is working with partners to support the development of similar sites for new areas.

How Busy Is Toon was  launched in summer 2020 to indicate the density of people in Northumberland Street – a prime shopping street for Newcastle – to help preserve social distancing as the city came out of the first Covid-19 lockdown.

It uses real time information from sensors and provides a traffic light system to indicate the level of risk in going into the area.

In December of last year the site was redesigned by local digital agency Hedgehog Lab to show real time video stills of Northumberland Street and Grey Street, helping people to make their own judgements.

The upgrade also provided information on car parking capacity and advice on how to keep Covid-safe while in the city centre.

More images and info

The council said the latest round of features take it beyond the 'busyness' aspect and include four additional still video images of the city centre updated every five minutes, a real time map showing the location of every bus in the city, searchable by route number, and five still video images of key roads into the city updated every 15 minutes. There is also information on electric vehicle charging locations on walking and cycling routes.

In addition, the data has been integrated into a selection of Twitter feeds to provide up-do-date travel information, linked to information on service disruptions and busyness levels.

Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for development, neighbourhoods and transport, said: “It is great to see this unique and locally developed website go from strength-to-strength.

“It is a fantastic example of how well we use smart data in this city to benefit those what live and visit here.

“And as the site now also provides a whole raft of information about sustainable travel options it directly supports our commitment to encourage people out of their cars onto greener means of travel.”

The council said that since the launch of the site there have been over 64,000 visits, and that it is now working with other areas to support them to development similar websites utilising smart, real time date sources.

It has been carrying out user research and feedback on the site's effect, and said there has been anecdotal evidence of people using the site to check before they go into the centre, although it does not have data on how it has changed behaviour.

Image from Newcastle City Council

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