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Future Meetings

Analysing Activity Levels in the UK High Street by using Footfall Counts

Venue: M/0.40, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University
Speaker: Christine Mumford, School of Computer Science & Informatics, Cardiff Univeristy.
Date: Tuesday, 01 May 2018 at 17:15

The next meeting of SWORDS will take place on Tuesday 1st May 2018 when Christine Mumford of Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics will present on Analysing Activity Levels in the UK High Street by Using Footfall Counts. Refreshments will be available in M/1.04 from 5.15pm with the seminar starting at 5.45pm in M/0.40. The meeting will be held at the School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. 


The UK high street needs to adapt to the new consumer reality, in which on-line shopping accounts for an ever-increasing proportion of the market. We can see change happening all around us, with leading chains going into administration, boarded up windows, and a plethora of charity shops replacing individual traders etc. It is not all doom and gloom, however. Coffee shops, specialty restaurants , and leisure facilities  are offering alternatives to shopping in many locations but nevertheless,  far too much retail space remains in most of our town centres.


In a change from my usual work on combinatorial optimization, heuristics and evolutionary algorithms, I am currently part of a team working on an Innovate UK project that aims to play a role in helping the high street to adapt and regenerate. Our partner organizations are stakeholders in the high street economy, and include 7 towns, 1 retail property plc. ,  and 4 trade associations.  Springboard Ltd lead our project and provide us with footfall data, which we use as the main measure of activity in a town.  Springboard have counters installed in most UK towns and cities, and 11 years of hourly data from several hundred counters is available.  


25 priorities for local action have been recognized in a previous study, and these consist mainly of some very basic things such as coordinating opening hours, improving the appearance of the town, and of course generally offering the local catchment what they want.  Measuring changes in footfall in response to interventions by high street stakeholders can tell us whether the interventions have been effective. The footfall activity information and much more besides will be provided to the stakeholders through a set of dashboards which are being developed by a private company called My Knowledge Map. My present role is to do the “backroom” analytics.  The technical work so far has confirmed some interesting classifications of towns based on their footfall profiles, which I will talk about in my presentation, as well as time series analysis, and its many challenges when attempting to predict future footfall.