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Surveillance State Warning: Venice is Watching Tourists’ Every Move

Inside an abandoned warehouse, on the Venetian island of Tronchetto, is a high-tech “control tower,” as it described itself to CNN, with screens filled with maps, graphs, and charts. The purpose of its mission? To combat overtourism.

Venice has long been the unofficial epicenter of overtourism, with 30 million annual visitors coming to the city of 50,000 residents — a number that has been dwindling since the population was closer to 150,000 five decades ago, CNNreported.

As tourists increasingly outnumber the residents, headlines continue to herald how Venice is slowly “dying.” The government has tried to limit the number of large cruise ships and proposed ordinances to fine tourists $580 for sitting down. A planned tourist entrance tax was set to be implemented in 2020, but is now delayed until 2022, CNN reported.

So, the Italian city is now taking its most watchful measure yet: tracking travelers’ every move. While the number of visitors unsurprisingly dropped in 2020 due to the global pandemic, the city opened its control room operation last September.

The system has the ability to track tourist data precisely and immediately. “This is the brain of the city,” Marco Bettini of Venis, the company which built the system, told CNN. “We know in real time how many people are in each part [of the city], and which countries they’re from.” Among the information tracked is canal traffic, public transportation departure and arrival times, and pedestrian numbers — the latter is measured using CCTV cameras posted around the city and then combined with cell phone data that can show where visitors are from, based on where the phone is used as well as where it’s registered. Read Full Article >

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