Data Science

Behind the scenes at Smukfest with IBM Data Science

Blog Home > Behind the scenes at Smukfest with IBM Data Science

Behind the scenes at Smukfest with IBM Data Science

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Skanderborg Music Festival — commonly called Smukfest — is one of Denmark’s largest and most diverse music festivals, attracting more than 60,000 visitors every year for its marquee names and its freewheeling, magical forest atmosphere, not to mention its widely televised naked canoe race.

But it’s the data the festival collects from its users that has the potential for setting Smukfest apart. With the help of IBM, Smukfest is taking data from chip-based vendor payments, geolocation, and other sources and combining it in new ways to better tailor the festival experience to its users’ whims and behaviors, safety needs, and, well, how much vodka and juice to stock up on at sunset.

Using data science to improve the Smukfest audience experience

In the following Q&A, Lars B. Pedersen — a senior consultant with IBM Global Business Services who helped run the project — explains what happened when IBM sent a team of data scientists armed with Cognos Analytics, Watson Studio, Watson Assistant, and other solutions to set up a temporary command center at one of Europe’s great summer festivals.


IBM data science team confers in their temporary command center at Smukfest

Q: How did IBM get involved with Smukfest?

A: We have been building relations with the festival leadership team over time. As volunteers, we could get insights into the festival strategic vision and IT architecture to be able to come up with a value proposition, which was: “How can we use IBM solutions to create an even better experience for the audience?”

Q: What sort of new knowledge did you uncover in working with this client? How could it be used in other implementations?

A: The festival is already on the leading edge — collecting data about everyone in the audience. Data includes ticket info, purchases, payments, location data, social media data, and musical preferences combined with weather data.


Using IBM Data & AI offerings and combining the data in the cloud, the festival gets unique insights in real time on buying behavior at bars and restaurants, crowd safety, audience preferences, and frequently asked questions from the chatbot we developed.

Our contract with the festival allows us to reuse any solution we have developed with other clients. The solutions are relevant in several industries spanning entertainment, retail, consumer products, and banking. The crowd safety elements are also relevant for public-sector clients such as police and defense.

Q: How did GDPR impact your overall planning and execution — and how you were able to sell the concept to Smukfest?

A: Data privacy is key to a music festival audience. We did not have to sell the concept, since GDPR compliance was high on the Smukfest CIO agenda. Some specifics:

  • IBM and Smukfest signed a Data Processing Agreement.
  • Privacy by design has been implemented in all solutions.
  • Data related to individuals is kept only with consent and permission from everyone.
  • Data is anonymized for analytics.
  • Technical and operational measures (TOMs) have been implemented.

Q: What results did you gain from the different use cases?

A: First, we’ve been able to increase insights for audience habits and behaviors. The solution answers the question: Which bars have high demand and require extra staff? It enables Smukfest to allocate and re-allocate bartenders to various bars.


Second, the application of local data to support and plan security readiness. The first year is always a trial year when the topic is safety and security. The solution proved value in supporting the security staff, identifying areas where crowd density is high now and can become high soon. We expect a lot from this next year.


We saw improvement of IoT tracking in the woods. The actual implementation of the use case was tracking medical staff and equipment for crowd safety. The solution gives a real-time graphical overview of the location of medical teams. The value is to be able to allocate the closest medical staff in a medical emergency.

Finally, we created a chatbot we called “Walther” to provide the festivalgoers with practical information, but the festival could also use the chatbot as a branding tool, with fun facts and fun answers. Watson Assistant handles questions and is used to send questions to the backend. Node JS (a Javascript framework) was used to handle the backend. Walther relieved the pressure on the customer service volunteers who have a high workload during the festival and in the days before.

Going forward, the festival service agents’ job will change from answering questions to analyzing and understanding what new topics are on the minds of the audience and what questions should be answered. What’s also important is that statistics from the chatbot provided feedback to festival management and security staff so the festival could act upon them. Before the festival, questions like “Where can I camp?” were frequently asked. During the festival, questions on money transfers and security where the most frequent questions.

Find out more at Think 2019

At Think 2019, get a sneak peek from IBM and festival organizers about what data-driven decisions are in the works for the 40th anniversary of Smukfest based on this flagship project. The session: Does Britney Spears Make You Want to Hold a Beer? The Answer Just Might Surprise You” (Session ID: 6656) takes place Wednesday, February 13, 5:30–6:10 PM at AMC at Metreon in Theater 14. Register for Think here.

Meanwhile, click here to learn more about IBM Data Science and Business Analytics platform. And for more on this specific story, see the related post on the Big Data and Analytics Hub: Data that rocks: Get behind Denmark’s premier music festival.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

More Data Science Stories

Data Science

Timothy Walker

Recap: IBM Data Science and AI at Think 2019

Customers, business partners, and IBMers alike walked out of Think 2019 full of ideas and excitement for the vision driving IBM Data Science and AI.

Data Science

Timothy Walker

IBM Data Science Elite Team teaches decision optimization and more at Think 2019

Decision optimization expert Susara van den Heever and other Data Science Elite Team members will share their knowledge in presentations at Think 2019.

Analytics for all

Timothy Walker

Get a jump on Think 2019 with “Smart Starts Here” sessions

The IBM Think 2019 conference includes a set of exclusive limited-seating sessions and hands-on labs in our Smart Starts Here track. Sign up now!