CrowdScan provides accurate and privacy-friendly crowd measurement data.
Obtaining real-time insights in the density of a crowd of people allows organizers of large-scale events and emergency responders to take timely action and prevent potential accidents. In addition, monitoring crowds over an extended period of time can also inform policy decisions on mobility, tourism and overall wellbeing in cities.
Currently, emergency control centers at large-scale events rely on a wide array of input feeds, including camera images, access gate counters, consumption sales, Wi-Fi access point data, and feedback from police officers in the field. However, many of these existing approaches suffer from significant accuracy-, cost- and privacy-related issues, and sometimes conflicting interpretations are assigned to the input data. Worst case, these approaches fail to prevent crowd disasters, such as the one that unfolded at the 2010 Love Parade in Germany.
CrowdScan addresses these shortcomings by providing accurate and privacy-friendly crowd measurement data. Its technology does not make use of camera images, nor does it rely on a tracking device (e.g. mobile phone or dedicated tag). Instead, CrowdScan’s devices transmit radio frequency signals, and the influence of the physical presence of humans (or animals) on these signals is used to derive crowd size information. As the system is unable to discern (or track) individual crowd members, it is inherently privacy-friendly.
Once we showed the people of Tomorrowland what we could do, they concluded that it was the only suitable technology that could answer their needs.
The technology behind CrowdScan’s solution was developed in the lab of Prof. Maarten Weyn. Within the IDLab of the University of Antwerp and imec, Maarten heads a research group of nearly 20 people mainly focusing on low power communication and localization. Besides being a leading scientist in his field, he has proven himself a prolific entrepreneur by having co-founded multiple spin-offs. Since he embarked upon CrowdScan’s journey with his co-founders Ben Bellekens (CEO), Stijn Denis and Anton Dierickx, the technology has been validated at several large-scale events, including Tomorrowland and De Warmste Week. As Maarten elaborates “Once we showed the people of Tomorrowland what we could do, they concluded that it was the only suitable technology that could answer their needs, because it allowed them to make real-time assessments of large crowds in an objective manner.”
As CrowdScan’s strategy further evolved and matured, the team partnered up with Qbic II to spur the company’s growth. According to Ben “I had to shift from a scientific to an entrepreneurial mindset, and I learned quite a lot in this regard from our discussions with Qbic. I kept an open mind and together we figured out the best way forward. Also, during the investment negotiations, both sides were set on landing a fair deal. I could trust Qbic to defend both the investors’ and founders’ interests.”
We aim to deploy in every major city in Belgium and the leading smart cities worldwide, such as London, Singapore and New York City.
It is the ambition of CrowdScan to become the reference technology for all objective, real-time, accurate and privacy-friendly measurements of crowd density data. Ben explains “We aim to deploy in every major city in Belgium and the leading smart cities worldwide, such as London, Singapore and New York City. And we will do so by building an international ecosystem of strategic partners for physical deployment and data integration.”
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