In May, 2020, several of our researchers from University of Porto, FEUP, participated in the EuVsVirus Hackathon. The team consisted of Thiago Munhoz , João Jacob, Henrique Rubio, and Silvia Baez . Thiago Munhoz has written a post explaining their submission–the inspiration and development of it.
The European Commission, led by the European Innovation Council and in close collaboration with the EU member states, hosted a pan-European hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners, and investors across Europe to develop innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges.
When we saw that the EU Commission was promoting a super-fast research and development challenge like this, we knew it was an excellent opportunity to participate, help, learn, and mostly to have fun. We thought how could we use the knowledge we’ve gained through these years in the SIMUSAFE project regarding personal mobility in the streets that could help in this COVID-19 crisis (and for the “new normality” future it brings).
Our idea was to think about the pedestrian risk, not as the risk of being hit by a vehicle. Since these days, the lockdown has lowered that probability, we thought the risk of social contact was something we could handle to help the authorities identifying risky situations in from a social distancing perspective. Although in SIMUSAFE, we have the pedestrian videos collected through smart glasses, we did not have the time to do that during the three days of the hackathon, and the idea of using youtube videos (webcam live streams) resulted handy and curious.
We are happy to announce we were finalists in the hackathon. We didn’t win, but that doesn’t matter when the idea is to promote solutions for a global problem, it was a great experience!
We need safety and social distance if we are to restart the lives of our society. Law enforcement wants to protect us, but they cannot be everywhere where they are needed to attend the needs of the general public. Additionally, people wish to their mobility to be safe and will not want to be at a place where the presence of other people may compromise public health. We want to help both the general public and law enforcement with the knowledge of if a particular location is safe or if it is a potential health hazard.
Crowded places can be risky to go in the new reality that will come after the COVID-19 and who knows what other kinds of spreading disease that might appear. Social Thermometer could help everybody to make better plans and check upon social distancing policies.
We were all living our daily lives, but then the COVID 19 happened. Now we all shall stay home to save the ones we love. Some of our favorite places are currently closed or under restricted control rules, and we won’t get back to it in a while. The problem is: How can we speed up this process? Social distancing seems the right way, but how to ensure the risk of going out is low enough?
The solution is SafeSpot! A system that uses technology to create a social distancing thermometer. Recent studies have already established a direct relationship between the infectious potential with crowdedness.
The risk degrees are calculated by the number of proximity incidents over time. Crowded places have more significant probabilities of social contact, touching, and infection, which means they are risky. And we all prefer cooler places!
The SafeSpot system uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence algorithms to perform video analysis over any kind of webcams, either using the free ones already available either your stream! The result is an automatic social distancing analysis tool that allows us to compare places by their social risk temperature.
We use feeds of public live cams that are placed everywhere (beaches, public amenities, parks, roads) and analyze it, in real-time to determine if their locations are secure, from a social distancing point of view, meaning that the stakeholders can know, in real-time, if at a certain location there is a social gathering that may be compromising public health. The security personal will have real-time information about risky situations and preventive policies enforcement.
Impact to the COVID-19 Crisis and beyond
Hot and Cool classification mechanism would help everybody during the COVID 19 crisis and generate risk data over time, so we all can be prepared to face future events like this. We firmly believe in the future of SafeSpot because it is ready to deploy, low cost, and it could be used for many other applications in all sectors, always respecting the privacy of the EU citizens and trusting on open-source code.
Some video examples of the system working:
And the webpage: