Tourists in Venice will now be tracked through their phones - here's why

In a bid to reduce overcrowding from tourism, local officials in Venice have announced that they will begin tapping into holidaymakers' mobile phones to keep track of visitor numbers.

The new scheme will employ a combination of wifi and camera technology to analyse the numbers of visitors to the busy city.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A total of 34 sensors installed across the city will detect the silhouettes of visitors passing beneath them, with the ability to identify whether the person is a child or an adult.

Locals have been dwindling in number in Venice thanks in part to over-tourism (Photo: Shutterstock)

The system is also able to mine data from mobile phones to find out how long visitors are staying in the city, and where they originally came from.

60,000 visitors per day

The experiment is the result of years of problems with over-crowding and over-tourism, an issue which has seen the dwindling local population take to the streets for frequent protests.

Currently, the Venice sees an average of around 60,000 visitors per day - a volume the city's narrow canals and streets were never designed to accommodate.

Tourists will have to pay an access fee to visit Venice from July this year (Photo: Shutterstock)

Local authorities have assured those concerned about the system violating privacy that sensors will not identify people but simply assess the height, speed of movement and density of tourists.

The system will be deployed, they say, with a respect for the privacy of visitors.

How will the data be used?

The experiment is already underway for the February Carnival, beginning on 8 February and ending on 25 February.

Sensors have been installed at sites along main pedestrian routes, including bridges and plazas. In the future, it is hoped these sensors will also be able to monitor pollution levels.

Local officials haven't yet outlined how they will use the data to reduce overcrowding, but updates will be given on social networks.

This new system isn't the first measure Venice has introduced in the fight against over-tourism - from 1 July, tourists will have to pay an access fee to enter the city.