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Venice will spy on tourists’ PHONE CALLS and use sensors around the city

Venice has started to count the number of visitors to the historic city as well as tapping into their mobile phone signals in a bid to cut the massive congestion in its tourist hotspots.

A network of 34 sensors has been installed which will detect the silhouettes of anyone passing underneath and can identify whether they are children or adults.

The new system will also make it possible to intercept the data of telephones to know where people have come from and how long they stay in the city. The local council says this will be done ‘in absolute respect for privacy’.

The experiment is now underway to coincide with this month’s Carnival which began on February 8th and continues until the 25th.

Tourism councillor Paoloa Mar said it had become imperative to monitor the flow of visitors to Venice which has been worried for some time about saturation at certain times and locations. The floating city attracts around 60,000 tourists a day.

‘The system will use a mix of sensors, cameras and wifi to constantly monitor the situation with a data release every 25 hundredths of a second,’ he said. 

‘The information is processed in the smart control room by dedicated software, which can then return information on the density of people present at a specific moment and their speed of movement.

‘In this way, we can predict at what time pedestrians will arrive at a certain critical point and divert them to another area in advance, so as not to clog or block pedestrian traffic. 

‘Preventing everyone from following the same path has a double advantage: it allows better management of flows but also the discovery of unknown streets.’

The 34 latest generation sensors, which in the future will also be able to detect the level of pollution, have been installed in sites that fall along the main pedestrian transit routes, such as the historic bridges that span the canals, museums and plazas. 

It hasn’t been specified how visitors will be deterred from visiting congested sites although the information will be shared on the social network sites.

Venice council says such a system has never been tested before in a city.

The authority is stressing that the sensors only detect the silhouettes of people, without identifying them. They do measure their height, the speed of movement and the density.

‘In this way, we will be able to know in real time which are the most crowded areas, anticipating any congestion,’ said a spokesman. 

‘The project will also make it possible to intercept the data of the telephone cells and to know the origin of the people, in absolute respect for privacy. 

‘In the analysis phase, therefore, we will have the opportunity to understand where visitors come from and how long they stop in the city.’

Venice’s new access fee is coming into operation on July 1st when different coloured stamps at varying prices will be necessary to enter the city.

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