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Pedestrian sensors to track people-movement in East End

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A series of pedestrian sensors will be installed across the East End of the CBD starting during Adelaide’s festival season, but they will have no capacity, the city council says, to track individuals.

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The Adelaide City Council recently completed a two-month trial of 10 pedestrian monitors – including infrared sensors that pick up body heat – in Rundle Mall.

A staff report presented to the council this week says the East End will become the first main-street precinct to host people movement monitors.

The council’s chief information officer, Peter Auhl, told InDaily the technology was in its infancy but could help local government better plan urban space.

It could be used in tandem with environmental sensors around the city – such as those that pick up pollen – to improve visitors’ experience of the city, he said.

He said the monitors could be particularly useful before and after events to inform decisions about whether to close particular roads to traffic.

“We want to make sure that the controls and conditions we put through the city (produce) the best possible amenity,” said Auhl.

Auhl said the sensors, which were about the size of an external hard drive and can be mounted on light poles, were an “infant” technology and did not have the ability to track individuals through an area.

The information produced was not “granular”, he said, but gave indications of the number of people congregating in, entering or leaving an area.

Ten sensors will be set up in the East End from the end of March until July.

The council also expects to install smart parking sensors across most of the East End this year, starting when the festival season closes.

The pedestrian sensors and smart parking form a small part of the council’s response to last year’s movement of staff, patients and their families from the old Royal Adelaide Hospital in the northeastern corner of the CBD to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in the northwestern corner.

A report by Hames Sharley, commissioned by the council in 2015, modelled the impact of the move to be the loss of more than 10 per cent of the annual retail spend of $130 million in the East End.

The report warned that businesses without a “destination” or “events” focus, along with convenience stores, takeaway food outlets and cafés were most likely to suffer from the move.

The council this week approved the development of a “creative lighting plan” for the area, a partnership with the Rundle Mall Management Authority for the Vogue Festival, a series of festival season “activations” for the East End and consultation on a Tour Down Under commemorative artwork.

Last year, the council approved first-hour-free car parking for its U-Parks near Rundle Street.

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