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Venice, Overwhelmed by Tourists, Tries Tracking Them

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A view of the Grand Canal in Venice.

Either we are pragmatic, or we live in the world of fairy tales, said Paolo Bettio, who heads Venis, the company that handles the citys information technology.

Credit: Alessandro Grassani/The New York Times

The leaders of Venice, Italy, are gathering the cellphone data of tourists and are using it, along with surveillance cameras, to monitor them.

The city’s surveillance system combines cameras, software, and phone data to collect people's age, sex, country of origin, and prior location.

Officials say they are using this system to identify crowds they want to disperse, especially to make the city's famous bridges easier to cross; another aim is to distinguish day-trippers from longer-term visitors to inform the potential use of gates at the city’s entry points, and of a booking system to reserve the right to enter the city (for a fee).

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and colleagues say they want to make Venice more livable for residents, but many citizens see dystopian associations in the use of technology to regulate visitors.

From The New York Times
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