AI cameras introduced in London to monitor social distancing and lockdown restrictions

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Artificial Intelligence cameras are being used in London and other cities in the UK to monitor social distancing. The sensors were initially developed by Vivacity to track the flow of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians and monitor how roads are being used. But when the country went into lockdown in March, Vivacity added on an extra feature to the AI scanners so it could register the distance between pedestrians.

This data is shared in a monthly report with the Government. Vivacity Labs said they have more than 1,000 sensors installed across the UK, in cities including London, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham.

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Chief Operating Officer at Vivacity Peter Mildon told BBC Radio Kent on Wednesday that the data is potentially “useful for informing policy decisions” regarding lockdown measures.

The data could be used to see where traffic calming measures might be necessary on UK roads (Vivacity Labs)

He stressed that the cameras are not CCTV but that they operate as a data collating device rather than a camera that stores footage. “They are not recording any footage, they are not streaming any footage and no one is actually watching it,” he said.

The AI technology is able to differentiate between pedestrians and vehicles (Vivacity Labs)

“We’ve trained an algorithm to be able to recognise what a pedestrian looks like as opposed to a cyclist or a van or truck.”

The Chief Operating Officer of Vivacity said the manufacturers introduced a new social distancing feature for the sensors in March.


London during Coronavirus lockdown – In pictures


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A woman jogging near City Hall, London, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown PA

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An image of Queen Elizabeth II and quotes from her broadcast on Sunday to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus PA

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A pedestrian walks past a billboard reading “Please believe these days will pass” on Broadway Market in east London

AFP via Getty Images

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Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge Getty Images

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Boris Johnson Jeremy Selwyn

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Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London

AFP via Getty Images

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Ed Davey is shown on screens as he speaks via videolink during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London PA

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A herd of fallow deer graze on the lawns in front of a housing estate in Harold Hill in east London AFP via Getty Images

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A woman wearing a mask crosses a bridge over Camden Lock, London

PA

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An empty Millenium Bridge PA

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A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?” is seen on an underground station platform Getty Images

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People push to enter the Niketown shop in Londo

AP

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Jo Proudlove and daughter Eve, 9, follow the daily online “PE with Joe” Joe Wickes’ exercise class on “Fancy dress Friday Reuters

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Police in Westminster Jeremy Selwyn

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Waterloo station looking empty

PA

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Getty Images

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A quiet Parliament Square Getty Images

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PABest A man walks along a passageway at London’s Oxford Street Underground station the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus PA

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Social distancing markers around the camel enclosure at ZSL London Zoo

PA

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A police car patrols Greenwich Park in London PA

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The Premier League in action in front of empty stands AP

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Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed.

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A deserted Piccadilly Circus

PA

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A general view is seen of a deserted Trafalgar Square AFP via Getty Images

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Getty Images

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The iconic Abbey Road crossing is seen after a re-paint by a Highways Maintenance team as they take advantage of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown and quiet streets to refresh the markings Getty Images

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A view of 20 Fenchurch Street (the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building) in the City of London, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus

PA

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A deserted Chinatown PA

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A person looks at graffiti on a JD Wetherspoon pub in Crystal Palace, south London. Wetherspoons workers have described founder Tim Martin’s lack of support for his chain’s 40,000 employees as “absolutely outrageous”

PA

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The London ExCel centre that has been turned into a makeshift NHS Hospital and critical care unit to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic PA

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The Palace Theatre, which usually shows the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue PA

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The Sondheim Theatre, which usually shows the Les Miserables musical, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue

PA

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Two members of a British Army mounted regiment exercise their horses in Parliament Square AP

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Westminster Bridge is deserted PA

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A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station

PA

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An empty street and bus stop at St James’s Park AFP via Getty Images

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Whitehall Jeremy Selwyn

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A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station

PA

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A single pedestrian walks past The national Gallery AFP via Getty Images

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London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Jeremy Selwyn

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Buckingham Palace looking empty in London, PA

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London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Jeremy Selwyn

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London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

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London’s Carnaby Street empty as shops closed after a lockdown was announced in the latest bid to stop the spread of coronavirus through the UK AP

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A quiet Jubilee line westbound train carriage

PA

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A single pedestrian walks past The national Gallery AFP via Getty Images

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A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station PA

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Empty Embankment

Jeremy Selwyn

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A woman jogging near City Hall, London, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown PA

2/50

An image of Queen Elizabeth II and quotes from her broadcast on Sunday to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus PA

3/50

A pedestrian walks past a billboard reading “Please believe these days will pass” on Broadway Market in east London

AFP via Getty Images

4/50

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge Getty Images

5/50

Boris Johnson Jeremy Selwyn

6/50

Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London

AFP via Getty Images

7/50

Ed Davey is shown on screens as he speaks via videolink during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London PA

8/50

A herd of fallow deer graze on the lawns in front of a housing estate in Harold Hill in east London AFP via Getty Images

9/50

A woman wearing a mask crosses a bridge over Camden Lock, London

PA

10/50

An empty Millenium Bridge PA

11/50

A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?” is seen on an underground station platform Getty Images

12/50

People push to enter the Niketown shop in Londo

AP

13/50

Jo Proudlove and daughter Eve, 9, follow the daily online “PE with Joe” Joe Wickes’ exercise class on “Fancy dress Friday Reuters

14/50

Police in Westminster Jeremy Selwyn

15/50

Waterloo station looking empty

PA

16/50

Getty Images

17/50

A quiet Parliament Square Getty Images

18/50

PABest A man walks along a passageway at London’s Oxford Street Underground station the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus PA

19/50

Social distancing markers around the camel enclosure at ZSL London Zoo

PA

20/50

A police car patrols Greenwich Park in London PA

21/50

The Premier League in action in front of empty stands AP

22/50

Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed.

23/50

A deserted Piccadilly Circus

PA

24/50

A general view is seen of a deserted Trafalgar Square AFP via Getty Images

25/50

Getty Images

26/50

The iconic Abbey Road crossing is seen after a re-paint by a Highways Maintenance team as they take advantage of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown and quiet streets to refresh the markings Getty Images

27/50

A view of 20 Fenchurch Street (the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building) in the City of London, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus

PA

28/50

A deserted Chinatown PA

29/50

A person looks at graffiti on a JD Wetherspoon pub in Crystal Palace, south London. Wetherspoons workers have described founder Tim Martin’s lack of support for his chain’s 40,000 employees as “absolutely outrageous”

PA

30/50

The London ExCel centre that has been turned into a makeshift NHS Hospital and critical care unit to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic PA

31/50

The Palace Theatre, which usually shows the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue PA

32/50

The Sondheim Theatre, which usually shows the Les Miserables musical, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue

PA

33/50

Two members of a British Army mounted regiment exercise their horses in Parliament Square AP

34/50

Westminster Bridge is deserted PA

35/50

A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station

PA

36/50

An empty street and bus stop at St James’s Park AFP via Getty Images

37/50

Whitehall Jeremy Selwyn

38/50

A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station

PA

39/50

A single pedestrian walks past The national Gallery AFP via Getty Images

40/50

London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

41/50

Kings Cross and St Pancras

Jeremy Selwyn

42/50

Buckingham Palace looking empty in London, PA

43/50

London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

44/50

Kings Cross and St Pancras

Jeremy Selwyn

45/50

London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

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London’s Carnaby Street empty as shops closed after a lockdown was announced in the latest bid to stop the spread of coronavirus through the UK AP

47/50

A quiet Jubilee line westbound train carriage

PA

48/50

A single pedestrian walks past The national Gallery AFP via Getty Images

49/50

A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station PA

50/50

Empty Embankment

Jeremy Selwyn

“We developed an addition to our sensors that was not just looking at the paths pedestrians were taking, but if two pedestrians come within two metres of one another then we will count that as one, and if they don’t come within two metres of one another then we will count that as a different one,” said Mr Mildon. “We’re creating a set of statistics on how behaviour is changing in terms of how people are staying close together or apart. And it is that data that is then useful for informing policy decisions on whether there should be a two metre rule or a one metre plus rule or whether local lockdown measures are having the impact they are envisioned to.”

Closing schools and blanket social distancing ‘increased Covid deaths’

Privacy concerns have been raised around the cameras, with the issue flagged during a Kent Council scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday after Simon Jones said the scheme is “in the pipeline” for the borough, reports Kent Online.

Mr Mildon added: “Even if Kent Council wanted to use them for enforcement purposes they wouldn’t be able to “The [cameras] enable us to provide anonymous data on how the road is being used. There are huge benefits in understanding how that space is being used and how that can be improved or how it can be made safer.

“The idea is to provide an evidence base to check that the interventions that are being put in and are having the policy benefits that the council envisioned in the first place.”

The Department for Transport told the Evening Standard that the Government, along with a number of other bodies, receives monthly data reports from Vivacity which forms part of the department’s monitoring of the impact of Covid-19.

The information supplied to the department are aggregate findings and no personal data is included in these reports, said the DfT.

More about: | Coronavirus | covid-19 | lockdown | pandemic | Artificial Intelligence | social distancing | Kent | Department for Transport

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