CSO Looks To Mobile Phone Data To Track Tourism Patterns

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CSO Looks To Mobile Phone Data To Track Tourism Patterns

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is looking to gain a better understanding of tourism patterns by using mobile phone data to see what visitors get up to whilst in Ireland.

According to, the government body is seeking an adjustment to the European Commission rules with the aim of being allowed to use visitors mobile data for statistical purposes without needing to get prior permission.

Assistant director general of the CSO, Richard McMahon, says it is already working with mobile network operators on how to use this data without compromising tourist privacy and avoiding any costs to consumers, adding that such data can help fill in aggregate statistical gaps, as seen in the Netherlands.

Currently the CSO compiles tourism statistics through "relatively small numbers" of short interviews at the likes of airports and seaports. The government body says that by using mobile phone data it will help gather specific information on the regional breakdown of tourism, for example what areas get bypassed as well as being able to compile a list of each nationalities favourite attractions.

The proposal is still at research stage but despite the merits that the data would yield, there are still privacy concerns despite McMahon saying that any use of data would be "compliant with legislation [and] would not allow the identification of individuals."