Council to use your phone data

Liverpool Council has raised its hand for the Federal Government’s $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

NO PRIVACY CONCERNS: Mayor Wendy Waller said: “The image sensors capture the number of people and vehicles in a location at a point in time. No individual or vehicle can be identified through the data."

NO PRIVACY CONCERNS: Mayor Wendy Waller said: “The image sensors capture the number of people and vehicles in a location at a point in time. No individual or vehicle can be identified through the data."

Phones and cutting-edge traffic-counting technology will help pinpoint pedestrian and transport patterns to help plan future roads and infrastructure.

The data will be collected and managed by Liverpool Council, Wollongong University and IT integration company Meshed to carry out the $240,000 project.

It comes on the back of negative backlash after The Sydney Morning Herald published a story in October where Liverpool was rated as one of the top 10  most congested CBD commutes across Sydney.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher said this will address traffic concerns. “Traffic congestion is a major problem in many of our urban centres, including Liverpool, and this is a great example of how we can better use technology and data to make our cities better places to live and work.

“The Smart Cities and Suburbs Program encourages collaboration between local governments, research organisations and the private sector to deliver a solution that can be applied locally and shared around the country. Other cities can see how the project rolls out and adapt it to their needs.”

Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller said it  will help solve congestion as the city continues to grow. “The council’s Civic Place redevelopment, including the new University of Wollongong campus, is expected to lead to 30,000 extra pedestrian movements daily. We’ll use the data to plan future pedestrian and vehicle movements throughout our city to ease congestion, provide better transport options and improve health and safety.”

Should residents be concerned about the collection of personal data without consent? Ms Waller said it’s the same as doing a manual head count but the automated system is new. “Only the tools used for counting have changed. The image sensors capture the number of people and vehicles in a location at a point in time. No individual or vehicle can be identified through the data.

“The image sensor identifies objects as a person, bus, car or bike. If there are three people and two buses in the vicinity of the camera the data transmitted will be ‘three people, two buses’. And the smart-device sensor records the number of smart devices in the area at one time.

“The council will take a comprehensive approach to secure technology for data archiving as the project unfolds. This will address questions around the length of time data is stored.”

It will be installed over the next six to eight months.

University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings was on board. “The University of Wollongong prides itself as an institution that sits right at the top of world rankings but also retains a strong focus on the communities in which it operates,” he said.

“The collection of data that gives an accurate picture of pedestrian movements will allow the council to plan effectively and enhance liveability for all in the CBD.”

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