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Monitoring pedestrian flows in the city


5 vianantsReal-time data on people distribution throughout the city enhances the management of Barcelona’s public spaces.




The management of traffic and pedestrian flows is a challenge shared by all major cities, and Barcelona is no exception. Knowing the real-time distribution of people in the open spaces of a city allows for the flow management to be improved, which makes a city a much more agile, safer, and more pleasant to live or work in, or to visit. This challenge aims to make planning and flow management in Barcelona more efficient and coordinated across agencies.

The city is very proud of the many public activities it organises throughout the urban area. The Institute of Culture of the City Council of Barcelona (ICUB) is responsible for promoting and facilitating cultural activities, boosting the activities of the non-profit sector, promoting cultural and leisure activities in the city and organising popular events in public spaces. Barcelona’s success as a tourist destination also means that large numbers of people (more than 25 million visited in 2012) are often concentrated at the same points of interest which adds to the complex management of the day-to-day usability of areas of the city.

The city is particularly interested in solutions for open-air public spaces – for example, Parc del Forum, Parc de la Ciutadella, Castell de Montjuïc, Plaça Sant Jaume and Plaça dels Angels – where major cultural events take place on a regular basis throughout the year.

Barcelona is looking for a real-time monitoring system for open spaces to measure capacity and pedestrian flows, identify hot spots and improve the operation and design of flow management around the city. The system should be able to calculate as accurately as possible the number of people that there are in a particular area at any one time. Solutions will need advanced- and location-analytics software based on historic data and real-time input. Proposed solutions should utilise and be compatible with the 440 antennas distributed across 70% of the city which support the public Wifi network.

Some of these locations have thermal cameras installed at access points but their cost and maintenance make them difficult to roll out and they have proved inflexible and limited as a resource. In the main, flow management is currently mainly based on visual estimates which are often inaccurate.

The winning proposal should include:

  •  additional compatible with existing Wifi antennae, where necessary
  • server and licences to collect and process data
  • business intelligence software
  • the necessary indictors plus real-time and comparative reports
  • defining and applying the algorithms and correlations necessary for the indicators
  • the capability to run and maintain the proposed solution
  • compatibility and interoperability with other information systems in the city, which means that it should have an API to access data.


By solving this challenge the City of Barcelona will be able to better plan and manage public events and people flows in the city to the benefit of both residents and visitors.


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