Crowd counters across the country came out with their best estimates for the surge of citizens that attended the Women’s March in DC (among others) and the Inauguration this past weekend. The results were definitely contentious - many scientists say there's still no foolproof way to correctly identify how many people appear at one place in time. Through the sea of signs, baby carriages and Pussyhats, estimates for the crowd at the Women's March on Washington DC alone boasted anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 people.
With crowds this large and messages so far reaching, Skyhook took note. There’s so much to learn from events like these—who are the attendees? Where did they come from and what influences them? Skyhook tackled this analysis by using mobile device location signals seen in our network that matched with where crowds gathered. We were less curious about the total numbers of attendees and more interested in the makeup of the crowds at these historic events.
We decided to focus on the Washington DC area, gathering anonymized data of device IDs seen during the march and comparing them to the inauguration crowd. Our location network that captures device Wi-Fi, Cell and GPS signals picked up the following heat maps of the DC area at the Women’s March event:
One now has to wonder: “who are these people and where did they come from?”
We set out to answer questions like:
- Where did inaugural attendees and marchers come from across the US
- How far did these groups travel to arrive at their respective events
- Which groups over-index for visiting particular venues and how do the crowds compare
To start, our Geospatial team needed to designate the areas of focus for Friday and Saturday’s events. We took snapshots of device ID data points on the map seen throughout the 20th and 21st from 9-1PM and 9-3PM respectively, and then delved deeper into what those IDs were telling us. Our location network captured device Wi-Fi, Cell and GPS signals picked up in the DC area at both events.
What we found
First, we looked where device IDs had been seen when they were in their home states. People traveled from all over the country to witness the President's swearing in or to attend the Women’s March in DC.
It was noted that swing states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan overindexed for participation in the Women's March at the capital compared to the Inauguration. California and Nevada were blue states that overrepresented participation at the Inauguration, but the presence of local marches in their home state may be attributed to this lowered number.
We then wondered, what’s the average amount of miles traveled for each event? As it turns out, Inauguration attendees traveled an average of 585 miles to reach their destination vs Women's March on DC attendees, who on average traveled 398 miles.
Behavioral Findings & Brand Preferences
Aside from geographic insights, we wanted to understand the brand affinities of each events' mobile users.The methodology for unearthing these insights relied on our curated database of venue locations. By looking into the places users went before they came to the march, we identified their behavioral and brand preferences. A wide breadth of data came out of this analysis that warrants a followup post, but here are some of our initial findings about the crowd.
Inauguration participants were:
- 50% more likely to eat at Chick-Fil-A
- 88% more likely to shop at Walmart
- 35% more likely to attend live sporting events
Women's March participants were found to be:
- 15% more likely to buy coffee out of home
- More than twice as likely to shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods
- 33% more likely to go to the movies
The Bottom Line
While counting event participants is one way of understanding the things citizens of the world care most about, fueling these efforts with in-depth participant insights from the start can reveal the multidimensional scope of these issues. Skyhook will continue to parse through our insights from these events and share - stay tuned. In the meantime, checkout some of our past analyses of mobile devices across the US here.
About Skyhook Personas
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