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Officials in Venice to Monitor Tourists via CCTV

If you've been to any major city in any country within the past few years, you've likely noticed the amount of security cameras. From shopping outlets and restaurants to private residences and even on street corners, it's hard not to notice the amount of electronic devices that seem to be watching your every move.

As it turns out, in some places – like Venice, Italy – they really are watching every single move you make. Per a recent report, officials have recently converted an abandoned warehouse – located on the island of Tronchetto – into a state-of-the-art control room. Its purpose is clear: to monitor the move of every single tourist who enters Venice.

Joining the Fight Against COVID-19

The recent measures implemented in Venice were done so with the intention of helping to control the spread of COVID-19. City officials have already taken several measures, including postponing some public events, in an attempt to curb infection rates throughout the region.

But the system doesn't only track tourists in real-time – although it does that well enough. Instead, it records all of this data, along with other information from traffic, public transportation, and more, in order to creative a comprehensive profile of tourism around the city. The system is so precise that an operator can tell – at any given minute – how many tourists have entered and how many have left for the day. It can even identify individual tourists and where they came from.

For a city that boasts 30 million tourists annually, this is quite the monumental task. However, officials are hopeful that their new system will not only help with the spread of COVID-19, but that it will also help them rein in their recent problem of over-tourism.
Given that only 50,000 residents call Venice their home, it's easy to see how an extra 30 million yearly visitors could pose serious problems – especially during a worldwide pandemic.

Serious Privacy Concerns

Even if the program was launched with the best of intentions, it's easy to see how this would raise some serious privacy concerns. Although officials are adamant that no personal data is being stored, and that information is limited to cell phone numbers and geographic locations, this hasn't stopped some privacy groups from voicing their concerns.

It's also important to understand that a program like this isn't launched overnight. In fact, initial planning began years ago – well before COVID-19 was in our everyday vocabulary. Moreover, no less than €3 million has already been invested.

Nonetheless, officials are already seeing some benefits from their new system. With the new ability to count daytime visitors, they're able to get far more accurate counts of day-to-day tourism. They're also able to monitor where they're going and what they're doing in an effort to strengthen the tourist experience in the future.

While it's difficult to gauge how this will play out in the coming months and years, the immediate benefits are clear. If nothing else, officials are hopeful that they'll be able to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and gain some control over their over-tourism problem.


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