Glastonbury: Technological Integration

Over the last five to ten years, technology has integrated into our lives like never before. It is only logical that festivals and large events take advantage of that integration and make use of technology itself. Technology has the ability to bring people closer together, and a prime example of this is evident at one of the world’s largest festivals: Glastonbury.

For anyone not going to the festival the BBC offer full coverage over the weekend. We’ve all become accustomed to their “red button” coverage, but their HD webcam offers viewers a chance to see the farm transform in real time as more and more festival goers arrive at the site. It is more than just a webcam, though. It gives users full control to zoom in and out and rotate over the site. It also has an interactive element that uses markers to display where some of the “hotspots” are located around the site.

Glastonbury sponsor EE makes sure festival-goers stayed connected and can share their experiences with superfast data connectivity during their trip to Worthy Farm. For example, for the 2016 event, the mobile broadband provider installed the infrastructure required for 4G connectivity on-site. Six mobile masts, located around the festival site, ensured campers and festival goers could get online and take advantage of super-fast broadband. They were able to upload pictures and videos, and update their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds instantly, at any time of their choosing.

As well as offering super-fast mobile connectivity with the ability to carry three terabytes of data over its Glastonbury network – EE installed mobile charging points around the camp. These ensured guests could charge their tablets and smartphones and swap their power bars, for use across the entire weekend.

Another more low-tech development was a £600,000 investment in “super-loos” which were first introduced in 2104 at the site. The 5,000 long-drop composting lavatories, each costing £20,000, are lower tech than a 4G mast but they are the latest in eco-loos and will eventually phase out environmentally dubious portable facilities on the Somerset site.

They won’t require emptying during the festival, have been described as a “huge improvement” by organiser Michael Eavis, and use wastewater from showers and washing, rather than mains water.

Something a tad less orthodox comes in the form of a “High Speed Herd” of fibre-glass cows. Also introduced in 2014, they were kitted out with 4G modems to allow passing music fans to log on and upload videos at key points around the Somerset farm.

The cows, modelled on Worthy Farm’s own dairy herd and named Dolly, Daisy and Molly, were decorated by festival artist Hank Kruger. Until now the artist has been known for decorating the steel drum bins around the festival ground. He stated that the “4G beasts” were the most “hi-tech” thing he’d ever worked on.

With more and more innovative ways to integrate technology into the event being introduced with every passing year (yes, information signs were powered by urine at last year’s event) it seems that we’ll never run out of ways to make festivals more “technologically interesting”.


E-Venting is an event management blog by Magnum Events

This week’s entry was written by Sean Doyle