Measuring Lineup Wait Time in Real-Time with SMATS Sensors

The Challenge: Offering Accurate Wait Times for Crowd Control

Sensor Deployed at Event

Sensor Deployed at Event. Image Credit: SMATS Traffic Solutions Inc.

Canadian Heritage plays a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. Each year, Canadian Heritage take on the huge task of delivering a spectacular Canada Day event in the capital city, and, equipped with the experience and knowledge from celebrations in the past, Canadian Heritage were aware that they needed improved crowd management data. Their main concern was to provide up to date data to manage staff and communicate accurate wait times to attendees so their expectations could be managed.

The Solution

The SMATS real-time, portable WiFi and Bluetooth traffic sensors and data analytics platform was chosen to support Canadian Heritage for the Canada Day event. A SMATS TrafficBox™ sensor proved to be the perfect solution, as it is powered by battery, meaning no power cabling needed to be installed. It was also very portable and came at a low cost, which is ideal for data collection applications only taking place over a short period of time.

The TrafficBox™ sensors detect both WiFi and Bluetooth signals from smart devices carried by people. It uses these signals to calculate live wait time data, which is then automatically synced to the SMATS web analytics platform, iNode™, through GSM communication.

The iNode™ MAC address matching and outlier filtering runs in real-time during projects, which guarantees that the most accurate information is available to users. The sensors are also easy to install, adjustable for any project duration and accessing the data remotely is made easy with iNode™.

The Results

Using SMATS TrafficBox™ sensors, a monitoring system was developed throughout the area in which the lineup would form. WiFi and Bluetooth detection was used to monitor the wait times throughout the day. The WiFi and Bluetooth sensors also monitored the movement of individual MAC addresses that were generated by smart devices.

Individual privacy is guaranteed due to the encryption applied to each MAC address by SMATS, which records the time each altered address spends within a specific zone or in movement between two zones. In total, three sensors were installed along the lineup path, which were used for monitoring two smaller links and the combined total line route.

The SMATS system played a number of different roles during the Canada Day event. Firstly, the SMATS system was used to offer real-time data to Canadian Heritage on the wait time to get through the Parliament Hill access security apparatus. This data was then shared to Canadian Heritage’s security partners, which ensured and confirmed the flow efficiency of the public through security.

Secondly, the SMATS system also allowed PCH to offer on-site advice for the public on the estimated wait time, letting the public make better informed decisions on whether or not to go to Parliament Hill.

Highlighted Monitor Routes and Sensor Locations

Highlighted Monitor Routes and Sensor Locations. Image Credit: SMATS Traffic Solutions Inc.

Parliament Hill Highlights

A significant advantage was seen in the fact that, as the flow of the crowds changed, staff were able to monitor the wait time impact live on iNode™. The crowd lineup originated at point 1, ending at point 3, which was Parliament Hill. For the Canada Day celebrations, the surrounding road closures facilitated the seamless monitoring of crowd traffic, and crucially, the SMATS sensors are programmable to ignore speed ranges that would differentiate foot traffic with motor traffic.

Staff monitored the live wait time information updates on the iNode™ dashboard and shared this information to the crowd. SMATS systems confirmed the wait times experienced by people attending the Canada Day event.

After the Canada Day event, Canadian Heritage were extremely happy to learn that they could then export their collected data, which could then be used to inform the plans for future events. They would also be able to compare the efficiency of different crowd management techniques.

Overall, the 2019 Ottawa Canada Day ran smoothly and Canadian Heritage’s needs were met.


From first-hand experience, Canadian Heritage were aware of the impact not having crowd wait time monitoring tools in place could have. In past events, they had tried to use monitoring technology, but had not since found a solution that offered live data collection. SMATS innovative traffic data technologies are adaptable for a huge range of applications, including crowd monitoring, directly benefiting Canadian Heritage in this case.

Wait Time Displayed at Event

Wait Time Displayed at Event. Image Credit: SMATS Traffic Solutions Inc.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by SMATS Traffic Solutions Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit SMATS Traffic Solutions Inc.


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