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    An agile experiment generates more accurate visitor data in Tampere, Finland

    tornado ja keinukaruselli sarkanniemi
    Lots of crowd in Särkänniemi in the summer of 2018. Photo: Särkänniemi

    With the help of machine vision and AI, what kind of data would be available from the visitor flows of a leisure centre? The SURE project carried out a successful agile experiment together with Särkänniemi and MarshallAI, paving the way for the future safety and security solutions.

    Särkänniemi is Finland's most versatile leisure centre and the largest attraction in Tampere, situated just a short walk away from the city centre. Särkänniemi is best known for the Theme Park, and there are also Aquarium, Näsinneula Observation Tower with a fine dining restaurant and Doghill Fairytale Farm.

    There are several urban development projects for the Särkänniemi area, making it an increasingly attractive tourist destination. Hence there will be more visitors, and Särkänniemi has shown keen interest in the use of new technologies for their visitor flow management. 

    – We were eager to join the Smart Urban Security and Event Resilience Project SURE. Of course, the COVID-19 changed plans during the project, but we were able to tackle the challenges, says Miikka Nenonen, Field Manager at Tampereen Särkänniemi Ltd. 

    Visitor counting with machine vision

    The surveillance cameras of the area were used for the agile experiment, and MarshallAI equipped them with AI-based software. The program monitors visitor flows, counting people as they arrive and leave the area. It detects humans on an object-class level but will not identify individuals. All data is processed anonymously.

    – At first we double- and triple-checked that the program is counting correctly. I think we reached very satisfactory levels of accuracy within a week, says Nenonen.

    – There are always elements whose significance is not fully revealed until we are on site and able to test things. This experiment is MarshallAI’s core expertise, although it was the first time we introduced the service in a theme park environment, says Arttu Laitinen, Head of Smart City of MarshallAI.

    The original plan was to test visitor counting also in the mass events by the Särkänniemi main stage. Those plans were cancelled due to the COVID-19, but the idea is not forgotten and will be taken up later.

    Additionally, the agile experiment explored the use of AI in detecting the security deviations. The entire Särkänniemi area is under surveillance, and new tech solutions would be very welcome.

    Data to help the business management

    Results generated from the visitor flow counting will be useful for example in the workforce management. With more accurate data available, it is possible to respond more precisely to the customers’ needs, improving both safety and customer experience. 

    – The SURE agile experiments have been beneficial for the entire City of Tampere, not just for us in Särkänniemi, says Nenonen.

    According to Nenonen, the role of smart technologies, such as AI ja machine vision, will increasing in the future. Laitinen adds that imaging and 5G technologies are already enabling versatile automated surveillance.

    – When used in a responsible way, machine vision is a reliable overseer and a very useful tool, says Laitinen.

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    The experiment was a part of the SURE project (Smart Urban Security and Event Resilience). The project was granted 3,2 million euros from the Urban Innovative Actions, an ERDF-funded initiative of the European Commission.

    Business Tampere is responsible for the upscaling of solutions, and provides a framework in which the technology providers can run the experiments.

    Tampere Region has a significant concentration of safety and security know-how and organizations, both nationally and internationally. There is more than 250 organisations related to safety and security in the region. Tampere region safety and security cluster, which has been in operation since 2011, provides an easy access to local ecosystem.

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