Tampere tested measuring tram occupancy with cameras

The future tramway (up and running in 2021) in Tampere offers lots of opportunities to develop new services and test technologies. The phase where tram cars are being designed is a perfect time for new development as the structure of the car has not been finalized yet and the locations for cameras and other devices can be tested and optimized.

Due to history in smart phone development Tampere has a strong know-how in imaging and camera technologies. The Smart Tampere program by the City of Tampere arranged an event together with the tram car manufacturer Skoda Transtech Ltd and Tampere tramway company (Tampereen Raitiotie Oy) where companies could pitch their solutions for camera and imaging solutions for the tram. The aim was to find solutions for, for example, tram occupancy measurement, individual service travel chain tracking, controlling the doorways and indoor areas, tracking the condition of the rails and so on. From Skoda Transtech’s perspective it was relevant to find out how existing cameras could be utilized for these purposes.

In the event the most relevant companies were chosen to pilot their solutions in practice. One of these companies was Symbio whose solution integrates AI into camera technology. Symbio researched how current technological solutions can be utilized in tracking crowd flow, what cameras are capable of in general and what ways they should be made use of. One vital part was to anonymizes the video material so that no individuals can be identified.

- The pilot successfully proved that cameras are a valid technology for crowd detecting. In the pilot we used existing cameras inside the tram but also cameras located at the stops, says Niina Siipola, the manager of AI and Analytics theme in the Smart Tampere program.

One important result in the pilot method is the possibility to create new business models. A solution developed and tested in Tampere is easier to sell in other smart cities internationally.

- This is a fine example of what kind of development Tampere wants to enable. The company gets a good reference for international markets. Our next step is to promote these solutions together with the companies at the Nordic Pavilion in the Smart City Expo World Congress Barcelona in November, say Siipola.

- Discussions about next steps in the development on the smart camera solutions have been started with different parties. These agile tests are a very efficient way to develop new services. With very little cost we can find the optimum solutions before heading for production, says Chief Innovation Executive Ville kankainen from Symbio.