Venice has picked this year's Carnival season, usually one of the lagoon city's busiest times, to try out its new automated people counting and tracking systems, designed to give the city an accurate sense of what's happening, and where crowds could overflow.
The test comes against the background of a disastrously bad winter and spring for tourism in the city, with crowds lower partly because of worries from last fall's extreme flooding and partly because travel from some areas is limited just now because of coronavirus fears. Hotels that are usually full are reporting 70% occupancy rates. Carnival started February 8 and will continue through Feb. 25.
The system uses sensors in strategic places, as well as 34 cameras, to locate crowds, see how they move, distinguish somehow between visitors, residents and commuters, and perhaps, someday, allow authorities to redirect people away from overcrowded areas to other routes or attractions.