In Venice, the high-tech monitoring of tourists sounds the alarm

Originally, the surveillance cameras beaming in the footage – along with hundreds more across town – were installed to monitor crime and ...


Originally, the surveillance cameras beaming in the footage – along with hundreds more across town – were installed to monitor crime and reckless boaters. But now they also serve as visitor trackers, a way for officials to spot crowds they want to disperse.

Officials say the phone’s location data is also alerting them to avoid the type of crowd that makes crossing the city’s most famous bridges a daily struggle. Plus, they’re trying to figure out how many visitors are day trippers who spend little time – and little of their money – in Venice.

Once officials establish such templates, the information will be used to guide the use of the gates and the reservation system. If crowds are expected on certain days, the system will suggest alternative routes or travel dates. And the admission fee will be adjusted to charge a premium, up to $ 10, or roughly $ 11.60, on days that are expected to be heavily trafficked.

City leaders dismiss critics who worry about the breach, saying all phone data is collected anonymously. The city acquires the information under a deal with TIM, an Italian telephone company, which, like many others, is capitalizing on increased demand for data by law enforcement, marketing companies and other businesses.

In fact, the data of the Venetians is also scanned, but city officials say they are receiving aggregate data and, therefore, they insist, cannot use it to track individuals. And the goal of its program, they say, is to track tourists, whom they say they can usually spot by the shortest amount of time they stay in the city.

“Each of us leaves traces,” said Marco Bettini, head of Venis, the IT company. “Even if you don’t communicate it, your telephone company knows where you sleep.” He also knows where you work, he said, and that on a specific day you are visiting a city that is not your own.

But Luca Corsato, a data manager in Venice, said the collection raises ethical questions as phone users likely have no idea that a city could buy their data. He added that although cities have purchased telephone location data to monitor crowds at specific events, he was not aware of any other city making this “massive and constant” use to monitor tourists.

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Newsrust - US Top News: In Venice, the high-tech monitoring of tourists sounds the alarm
In Venice, the high-tech monitoring of tourists sounds the alarm
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