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Venice is watching tourists' every move

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.8%. 2 min read.

The Venice authorities have opened a "Control Room" which uses CCTV and phone data to track who's in the city - and where they're from. The aim? Not just to regulate footfall, but to change tourism for the better.

But as well as controlling footfall, the authorities wanted to track tourism itself -- not just by registering overnight guests but, in a city where the vast majority of visitors are daytrippers, by counting exactly who is in the city -- and where they go.

They're not being monitored for crime, though; they're feeding information to the authorities that will create a profile of the hordes of people visiting Venice.

"This is the brain of the city," says Marco Bettini, co-director general of Venis, the Venice-based multimedia and tech company which built the system.

"We know in real time how many people are in each part [of the city], and which countries they're from. "

Workers can also activate a "time machine" to look back -- so far today, for example, there have been more than 1,000 boats passing under the main bridge at Piazzale Roma, the main entry point to the city.

Of the 527 Italians, only 246 are resident in Venice (if a mobile phone is regularly logged in the city, it is counted as a resident).

Counting the daytrippers and tracking where they tend to visit, and which streets they take, could be crucial for a city which has resorted to closing its main thoroughfares to non-locals at busy times in an attempt to spread people throughout the city.

Of the foreigners, the system breaks down where they come from (data is based on where their mobile phone is registered, so most likely their country of origin), and displays them as bars on a map on the city -- a graphic representation of overcrowding in real time, with colors going from white to red as the numbers get higher.

And today, there have been 85,000 people logged in Venice.

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