We just launched our new solution page for approaches to fighting COVID-19, for example by defining critical areas and monitoring how many people are in them. For more information visit:www.swarm-analytics.com/covid-19
Many people have privacy concerns relating to video cameras, especially when this is combined with AI technology. However (when properly controlled and regulated) this could, in fact, be actually something that offers people more freedom as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Providing some more freedom will be politically, economically, and socially critical, as it looks like we will need to learn how to live with significantly reduced social contact for the foreseeable future.
We can look at this via an example. Understandably, people are desperate to get out of their homes for some much-needed exercise and fresh air. However, in many countries, exercising or even sitting in a park are now forbidden. Although being in a park on your own carries no COVID-19 spreading risk, these rules need to be in place, as authorities have no easy way to see what is happening in public spaces. Are groups/crowds of people gathering? Are people keeping a safe distance? They simply do not know, so a general rule has to be implemented, for example, all parks are closed. However, it gets worse, when any ‘violation’ has to ‘punished’ as an example to make sure people follow the strict rules, like an elderly person sitting alone on a park bench.
So, if authorities could more easily monitor open spaces in real-time, it means that the rules could be loosened and people could enjoy sitting in the sunshine in the park or going for a short walk, while high-risk grouping or crowding could be automatically detected and addressed as required. Therefore, better monitoring, via video cameras and AI, could, in fact, bring more freedom.
What Swarm Analytics Is Working on to Deliver Meaningful Crowd and Group Insights
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Swarm Analytics is working hard to quickly deliver extra AI models to deliver insights into people spacing, groups, and crowds in streets, squares or shops. The existing capabilities of Swarm Analytics for counting and tracking people will be further developed to also enable group size estimation and density information.
Crowd or Group Size Estimation
To gain comprehensive insights into crowds and gatherings of people in environments, where conventional systems like mobile tracking do not work well, Swarm Analytics group estimation is required. For example at big sports events or smaller gatherings, where it’s very challenging to count visitor numbers or identify group sizes. Additionally, if certain limits of group sizes or visitor numbers are reached, real-time alerts can be used to trigger required actions.
For evaluating critical situations or identifying overcrowding in shops, shopping centers, squares, or streets, density insights are required. Are people keeping a safe distance apart? When density levels reach a critical level, automatic real-time alerts can be used to take appropriate safety actions.
Traffic monitoring and people insights
Measures for limiting social interactions have recently become more and more restrictive. Nevertheless, we hear news about people meeting in parks to enjoy the nice weather. Also, traffic volumes should have dropped as a result of new guidelines. Could data help in identifying critical areas and taking appropriate actions?
Traffic monitoring data
Usually, it is quite busy on the road during the week. Using the AI technology on the Swarm Perception Box, it is now easy to measure traffic by automatically counting all vehicles on a specific road with just a cheap (<€50) IP Camera. Since the data is gathered from a live video stream, you can detect what is happening on the road in real-time and generate immediate alerts. The collected data can also be used to compare traffic volumes for different vehicle types over the last hours, weeks, and months.
In the following real-world example from Austria, over the last few days, it appears that the COVID-19 measures had a significant impact on traffic volumes, causing smaller traffic peaks and lower traffic numbers in general.
Example: Counting line, for capturing traffic and pedestrian volumes
Data for people insights
If the number of people moving on the streets and in public places is of special interest, people can be counted as well. In the graph below, real-time numbers of people walking on the street are compared to defined safe ‘crowding’ limits. The insights about events where safety limits are exceeded could support decisions about increased safety measures. As the data is collected automatically in real-time, alerts could be sent immediately.
Maintaining the privacy of individuals
Although traffic monitoring and data for people insights are generated with the aid of surveillance cameras, the privacy of individuals is fully protected. This is ensured through an innovative approach which “translates” video streams directly in real-time data. No picture ever leaves the camera, but messages, consisting of numbers and words, are sent to the respective operator to put the insights directly into use. Therefore, its also 100 % GDPR-compliant.