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Austin: Here's the App You Need to Ditch the SXSW Crowds

Yogi Berra's famous quote – "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" – has never really applied to Austin's South by Southwest festival.

Yes, there are crowds galore. But people keep coming: in 2012, the number of registrants increased by 15 percent over the previous year.

But now an Austin-based ad agency has developed an app for locals who might be looking to avoid the SXSW masses. It lets you know where people aren’t.

The app, called Avoid Humans, shows bars, restaurants and coffee shops where people haven’t checked in on Foursquare, a popular app where users tag themselves at specific locations to let others know where they are.

The app grades locations based on the number of check-ins, via a color-coded system. Here's its ratings:

  • Green:  Comparable to the number of vegans at Franklin Barbecue
  • Yellow: Like a 3:00 a.m. food truck burrito, proceed with caution
  • Red: More crowded than a UT football game when the UT football team was good

“As the popular places crowd up fairly quickly and corporate sponsors come in and hold parties, it’s hard to find where to go or where you can go without waiting in line," says Ryan Carroll, group creative director for GSD&M, the company behind Avoid Humans. The firm will also have a lounge at the festival where you can escape for a bit before heading to your next panel.

GSD&M developed the web app with its tongue-in-cheek – but for some Austinites it could be a saving grace in fleeing the crowds flooding downtown for the next 10 days.

"If you live here and you're not involved with SXSW, I understand it might not be the most fun time to live in Austin, but this app works for people who are going to the festival and aren't going to the festival," Carroll says. "It works within the city and all over the city."

That is unless the SXSW masses catch on and start going incognito. With panels on NSA snooping being a hot ticket at SXSW Interactive this year, you can never be too careful. 

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