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DPA concludes: “Footfall AI is a good example of data protection by design”

09/03/2021

The Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has ruled that Citymesh's Footfall AI solution is by design a good example of how mapping visitor flows should work.

Mapping visitor flows during the Covid19 summer

In corona times, more and more cities are investing in automated mapping of visitor flows. This way, they map out crowds very specifically. This summer, Citymesh entered into a partnership with Westtoer, the provincial tourism and recreation company of the province of West Flanders. Citymesh provided more than 100 optical sensors on the Belgian coast. Following this project, the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has investigated the Footfall AI solution. The DPA has now concluded that the solution meets European data protection requirements and that it is a good example of data protection by design.

Optical sensors, not cameras

The combination of network security, software and suitable hardware makes the Footfall AI extremely suitable for mapping visitor flows. The optical sensor of a Footfall AI registers every passer-by based on a polygon and several counting lines. Footfall AI also maps many more parameters with object detection, including the amount of traffic per surface, means of transport and the walking direction. The solution can therefore count the number of pedestrians, cyclists, cars and vans separately. For example, you can map out the multi-modality in a city.

The DPA now confirms that the Citymesh team has sufficiently taken data protection into account when designing this solution. The images used are irreversibly blurred and after a few milliseconds, passers-by are replaced by coloured surfaces. Face recognition is therefore not possible at all with this solution. In addition, the images are not stored longer than strictly necessary. The acquired data is also kept in a form that makes it impossible to re-identify the data subjects.

Magali Feys from AContrario who assisted Citymesh in the process confirms: "Citymesh integrated the principles of data protection by design very early in the development process." Thanks to the close cooperation throughout the entire development process between the Citymesh team of developers and the AContrario team of security and privacy specialists, Citymesh succeeds in making innovation and data protection go hand in hand. "Footfall AI is a great example of how innovative but privacy-sensitive technologies can be rolled out perfectly without compromising data protection."

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