The great

“For me, being able to use movement flows to create security concepts is a real added value for the carnival.”

Jacques Tilly, sculptor

The Rhineland carnival attracts over one million visitors every year to the strongholds of Düsseldorf and Cologne. The artist Jacques Tilly is, among other things, one of the many reasons why the Rose Monday parade in Düsseldorf is so well loved. Every year the famous float builder designs and builds the colourful, often politically satirical floats, which enjoy a wide reach through TV broadcasts and shares on social media. Many revellers want to experience these works of art live and in the flesh, which is why the city and its associates are working on sophisticated security and traffic concepts. In an interview with Alexander Lange, Head of Transport Analytics at Telefónica NEXT, Sven Gerling from the Düsseldorf Carnival Committee learns to what extent anonymised mobile communications data can influence and enhance these concepts.

What increasingly looks more and more complex for outsiders can actually make many day-to-day things easier: Big Data. Massive, exponentially growing data streams open up a multitude of new opportunities. That’s because the analysis of anonymised mobile communications data creates substantial value for the economy, society and ultimately for the consumer. Improved offer for local public transport? More security at major events? Less traffic congestion and emissions? All this is possible. Data analysis enables many things to become more predictable and thereby more efficient. And what is predictable guarantees more safety and reliability – for all.

Telefónica Deutschland is actively shaping these market developments and is exploiting Big Data’s enormous growth prospects. Mobile communications data from everyday network use is processed anonymously and important insights are extrapolated from this data for the entire population. At the same time, however, Telefónica is committed to ensuring our customers’ data sovereignty and their freedom to shape their own digital lives. Informing every decision are the company’s most important guiding principles: data protection, innovation and transparency.

Carnival in the Rhineland – show case

Düsseldorf and Cologne’s traffic and security arrangements need to take account of hundreds of thousands of excited revelers in attendance on the crazily busy carnival days. But where are the attendees coming from? Where are they staying? And when will it all start to die down? The Rhineland show case clearly shows how and where people move around at carnival.


460,937 trips to Cologne on November 11 for the opening of the Carnival.

In datasets, a journey is defined as a movement of at least two kilometres between longer stays in one place. The data were anonymised before being analyzed. The process used carries the seal for TÜV-approved data protection and was developed in conjunction with the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. The data protection meets the strictest requirements of the German Telecommunications Act [Telekommunikationsgesetz].

11/11 – Start of the fifth season of the year


In Cologne, carnival traditionally starts on November 11. Compared with the average weekday outside of this crazily busy time, it is easy to see why Cologne draws visitors from a much wider area of Germany on November 11. While a regular Saturday sees around 55,000 people travelling to Cologne from places 30 kilometers or further away, on the carnival kick-off day the figure is almost double that.

People visiting Cologne
> 10 km340,000408,000
> 20 km110,000170,000
> 30 km55,000100,000
> 40 km34,00063,000

Urban traffic in Cologne on 11/11


On an average weekday, all of Cologne’s inner city is well frequented.

For the carnival launch, trips into the inner city are heavily centered around the Old Town, while on a regular weekday people move around a much wider area. This kind of knowledge can prove beneficial to local public transport operators and other services.

Districts with most visits
Top 1Old TownOld Town
Top 2Old Town: NorthOld Town: South
Top 3New Town: NorthCalc

Rose Monday in Cologne and Düsseldorf


The highlight of the Rhineland’s carnival is the Rose Monday Parade. Each year, Cologne and Düsseldorf compete for the best float, the most caramel sweets and the most spectators.

Looking at the number of trips to both cities on Rose Monday, the data show that people throughout Germany are interested in both parades.

Proportion of total number of journeys from 5–24 hours
Düsseldorf: 38 percent
Cologne: 62 percent

Rose Monday by region


On Rose Monday, the parades in Cologne and Düsseldorf are staggered and start at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

The data shows the regional origins of visitors on Rose Monday for the friendly competition that is cultivated between the cities. In many communities in the border area such as Solingen (75 percent), Mönchengladbach (60 percent) and Monheim (60 percent), most people choose Düsseldorf for their excursion. The catchment area for Cologne at carnival time is mostly south of the city.

Cologne’s "Veedelszöch" parade on Tuesday


The traditional carnival parade is not just in Cologne’s city center. On Tuesday, different parts of the city organize their own parades, the so-called "Veedelszöch", to conclude the carnival week. As the journey analysis for Cologne on Carnival Tuesday shows, carnival-goers are on the move once again.

Favourite districts on Carnival Tuesday
Ehrenfeld: 19,947 journeys
Nippes: 17,779 journeys
Mühlheim: 17,563 journeys


(Cumulative inbound journeys to the applicable postcode on Carnival Tuesday from 11–16:00).

Big data in numbers

Every day we generate


bytes of data (2.5 quintillion). That’s equivalent to 488,000,000,000,000 DIN standard A4-sized printed pages, which would tower at 39 million kilometers if stacked together. That’s 100 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

90 percent 

of all existing data was generated in the last two years alone.


90 percent 

of all generated data is unstructured, consisting of text, images, sensor data, audio files, videos, streams and log files.


Only by structuring the data can they be used in a meaningful way. That was how thousands of Tweets were used in the USA to spot and contain the progress of a flu epidemic.

Data protection at Telefónica Deutschland

Our pledge

We are committed to ensuring our customers’ data sovereignty and their freedom to shape their own digital lives. We therefore protect all data in our products, processes and systems and ensure that Telefónica Deutschland’s business activities conform to data protection regulations. Our practices are simplified and transparent and we share information with all relevant interest groups at an early stage.

Our guiding principles

Autonomy: Personal data belongs to our customers. Telefónica Deutschland handles this data responsibly and commits to enabling customers to retain data sovereignty.

Telefónica Deutschland’s communicates transparently how and why personal data is used.

Data protection:
Telefónica Deutschland protects personal data in processes, products and systems using technical and organisational measures. Service providers also abide fully with legal standards. Data may only be passed on to third parties with express consent or legal permission. We only use anonymised and consolidated data when evaluating data for statistical analyses. In these cases, it is impossible to trace personal data.

Telefónica Deutschland shares information with regulatory authorities, legislators and other stakeholders at an early stage. In addition, the company also actively participates in the debate on data protection in the digital world. When developing new products and services, we observe and establish data protection frameworks as well as privacy-friendly designs and settings.

Why use anonymised data?

Telefónica calculates movement flows from anonymised data. Intelligently linked, this data provides important insights that are relevant for companies from various industries as well as for municipalities, public transport companies and society as a whole. Telefónica Deutschland’s anonymisation procedure, which is TÜV- certified (German association for technical inspection), protects customers’ privacy and prevents data from being traced back to a specific person.

How does the anonymization of data work?

Watch this reveler and discover how he becomes anonymized in three steps...

Initial situation:
He has particular characteristics on Rose Monday. Taken together, individual characteristics result in a unique data set.
Step 1:
However, there isn’t just one carnival-goer out and about on Rose Monday. Data sets for all revelers are segmented into their smallest possible components and separated from any personally identifying information. Only matching components are consolidated and securely stored in various locations.
Step 2:
Identifying characteristics are generalized, altered slightly with random changes or even discarded. Changing an orange hat to blue, for example. This makes it impossible for the information to be traced to a particular person.
Step 3:
If similar characteristics of a large group can be collated, then the data gathered from mobile communications can be projected onto the whole population. Valuable insights can be extrapolated from these statistics. The carnival-goer we met at the start can no longer be identified in the statistics.