By Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Major League Baseball All-Star Game last week helped Denver to see just as many people downtown as it saw before the pandemic. That’s according to location services data from mobile devices used downtown during the big event.

DENVER, CO – JULY 13: Fans enter the stadium before the 91st MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Coors Field on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Data from smart devices in downtown Denver during three days of the All-Star events show there were more than 250,000 mobile device users per day in downtown.

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That’s back to the pre-Covid numbers downtown used to see. In July 2019, there was an average of 250,000 users a day.

So far, overall, in July 2021, there’s been an average of 206,000 users per day.

The data also shows each month in 2021, the number of users downtown has continued to increase. In January 2021, there was an average of 85,000 people downtown each day, in February, there was an average of 94,000, in March, the average was 102,000, in April, it was 123,000, in May, it was 145,000, and the average was 183,000 in June.

(credit: DDP)

Here’s how the data works: Anyone with a smartphone or tablet who has their location services turned on for an app – like a rideshare app, for example – their anonymous location data will be sent to a company that works with the Downtown Denver Partnership. The company says no personal data whatsoever is sent from apps to the company, that in fact, the apps that send your location data to the company are required to anonymize it before sending it off.

If you want to opt-out of being counted in the downtown data, simply turn off the location services on your smart device. Mobile phone users who have a flip phone, with no apps using location services, are not counted in the data.

Placer.ai is the company that works with the Downtown Denver Partnership to collect and aggregate the data. It provides this service for dozens of cities across the country.

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“We don’t know who the individuals are, but we know when mobile phones move throughout our center city,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “So, we know if the phone is here every day, it’s likely an employee, we know if a phone never leaves 24-7, it’s likely a resident.”

Door says the data helps drive important economic decisions for Denver’s future.

“It’s an outstanding way to look at how we do placemaking,” Door said. “When you’re looking at developing, or creating, or advancing a public space, you can better understand how much time people spend in that space. Do they just walk through the space, do they linger there, and that really helps you understand how to build these places out, to really meet the needs of the community.”

(credit: DDP)

Denver leaders are excited about this data, because they say it shows the city is making a big comeback.

Door says, right now, with people working in the office fewer days a week, it’s harder to discern which user is a tourist and which is a local, but she says the DDP is also collecting data from downtown businesses to get a better idea of how many people are coming back into the office.

Overall, she says the data is indicating downtown will come back with more visitors than before COVID-19 shook the world.

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“It’s important for us to track it primarily to show our community, the region, the state, and the country that downtown Denver is thriving,” Door said. “This is really great data to show that people are coming back. Compare that activity to who was here before, and it’s really an informational message that, Denver is strong, it’s resilient, it’s not just coming back how it was, it’s going to continue to grow exponentially, and these numbers help to show that.”

Kati Weis