SITGES, Spain, July 15 (Reuters) – As a summer heat wave sends hordes of people onto the beach, authorities in the seaside town of Sitges in northeastern Spain are testing the use of drones to monitor crowds in real time and counter a rapid increase in COVID-19 contagion.
“It’s a pioneering system,” said Ricardo Monje, a drone operator with project developer Annunzia ES. “We can take pictures, run them through software and with the software we can count how many people are on the beach.”
The pilot project will last until August 22 and should allow the authorities to react more quickly to the crowds that form along the 18 kilometers of Sitges beach, the town hall said.
“If we see that the beach is very busy, we can pass this information on to the beach lifeguards who will do checks and make sure people keep their distance,” said local manager Guillem Escola.
“If people don’t notice it, then we send the police.”
The town hall said the project would comply with all data protection laws and ensure that all captured images of people remain anonymous, but some local residents have concerns.
“I think it’s a good idea but they have to communicate with the population and identify the drone because otherwise it is an intervention in our civil liberties”, said Jimmy Burns, an Anglo-Spanish journalist and writer who lives in Sitges. .
Madrid police are already using drones equipped with searchlights and speakers to locate and interrupt outdoor parties.
Stimulated by the highly contagious Delta variant and a sharp increase in socialization among young people, the incidence of COVID-19 in Spain has more than tripled in the past two weeks.
Regional authorities in Catalonia, which have the highest 14-day infection rate in Spain with 1,068 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, more than double the national average, announced on Wednesday that they would impose a cover-up. fire in 158 municipalities, including Sitges. Read more
Written by Nathan Allen and Emma Pinedo, edited by Andrei Khalip and Raissa Kasolowsky
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.