During the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa, a series of visualisations were created using O2 SMS activity data in the UK showing network activity fluctuations during the England matches.
The aim of the project was to find out if what happened in the matches affected the mobile operators network traffic. First the data had to be manipulated to better show fluctuations between standard traffic and the increase in traffic when something happened.
A traffic baseline was created by averaging the total number of texts per match divided by the minutes, and then comparing that number with the actual traffic data for each minute. If the traffic for that minute was either above or below the baseline, relatively that column was resized as a percentage of the baseline.
As expected when something happens in the match traffic activity dramatically increases as the fans want to tell people about it. It’s also interesting to see in the minutes that when something does happen it takes a few minutes for traffic to settle back to normal. Reasons for this could be that some fans take longer to text than others, some are too caught up in the moment that it takes them a few minutes before they’re ready, or they could be responses from the recipient to the sender. Nevertheless when something happens it’s clear people want to let their friends know about it.
Comparatively it’s interesting to see the events in each of the matches which led to the traffic spikes. With all matches plotted together on one line graph you can really see how the fans react to the events.