AI helps Helsinki in fight against COVID

28 October 2020

AI helps Helsinki in fight against COVID

Helsinki is combining its CCTV networks with artifical intelligence (AI) to have a better understanding of crowd sizes in important parts of the city. Such knowledge could help the ciry respond more effectively to the Covid crisis.

Helsinki’s system lets AI sort through the images obtained by its CCTV networks and determines how many people are present at a specific time and place. So far, the new technology has only been tried out at the Senate Square and the Citizen’s Square. The city hopes to introduce the system more widel. Whether that happens will depend on its effectiveness in the fight against COVID, and on the privacy concerns of its citzens.

Helsinki has assured its citzens that the system doesn’t look at them as individuals, but as chunks of data that allow it to make an accurate estimate of the number of people present in a space. Moreover, the cameras are monitored by machines, producing algorithms that result in rounded numerical values. These rounded numerical values are the only data the Helsinki authorities have access to.

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