Foursquare's digital outdoor ads predict the best times to avoid the crowds

Social distancing is easier with a data-driven campaign with LinkNYC

Published On
Aug 25, 2020

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Even as parts of New York City begin to reopen, most people are wary of venturing into potentially crowded spaces, where chances of catching the coronavirus are much higher than in the outdoors or safe at home.

But some trips can’t be avoided. Essential workers keep the city functioning, and even people who can work from home must still buy groceries and pick up prescriptions. Some stores have instituted “senior hours,” opening early so high-risk groups can shop before everyone else. Think of it as temporal distancing.

Foursquare, the location tech company that can track visitors to almost every venue in the city, used to be the best way to find out which restaurants and nightclubs were hot. But now, that same data can be used to figure out the best times to make necessary trips—when everyone else isn’t. A partnership with LinkNYC, which provides wi-fi and digital ad space around much of the city, displays the familiar “peak times” bar graphs Foursquare users are used to. But this time, the best times are the ones with the lowest foot traffic.

The data is pulled from local grocery stores and drug stores and aggregated by neighborhood, so passersby always see information relevant to their current locations. In the evenings, the data switches to the next day, to help travelers plan ahead.

The ads are running in all five boroughs, with plans to roll them out in other cities.


Aug 25, 2020
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