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Technology to study the physical activity of Leuven's residents!

21 October 2021

In August 2021, the city of Leuven began to roll out the "Smart Sporting Cities" project, which uses smart cameras to measure the physical activity of Leuven's inhabitants in public spaces. A short explanation.

What are Living Labs?

Two living labs - places dedicated to designing future technological tools and services by involving future users, in this case citizens - will enable the city of Leuven to learn more about the physical activity of its inhabitants over the next three years. Smart cameras will be used to establish how many people are exercising, what kind of physical activity they are doing and how often. The aim is to improve public policy on outdoor sports in the Flemish Brabant capital.

De Bruul Park, which contains playgrounds, football facilities and a basketball court, and Philipssite (which includes a skatepark and Calisthenics equipment) were chosen for the launch of this innovative experience. 

The project is the result of collaboration between the university town and Sport Vlaanderen and is supported by the "Innovative Public Procurement" programme of the Flemish Department of Economy, Science and Innovation. 

What is involved?

The following data will be collected at both sites: the type of physical activities carried out, the number of athletes using the public space, the time and frequency of use of the public space and facilities, the number of athletes using a particular exercise path (cycle path, walking path, etc.), the speed at which athletes move along one of the exercise paths, etc.

Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister of Sport, recently explained to journalists from Het Laatste Nieuws that it the IoT will allow this monitoring. The city of Leuven will be able to use the data collected to evaluate the physical activity of its citizens in a very targeted way in the coming years, improve the city's sports infrastructure and, more generally, improve Leuven's sports policy. 

Based on the results, Sport Flanders will develop a roadmap on the use and value of IoT applications. This strategy document will enable other cities and municipalities to implement targeted campaigns and measures.

The importance of security

The city of Leuven, the consortium of companies headed by Cronos Public Services (which was awarded the "Smart Sporting Cities" contract), and Sport Vlaanderen are reassuring about citizens' privacy. 

A data protection impact assessment was conducted to identify the risks associated with both the data and this experiment. They also state that they have placed these cameras with great attention to security and the protection of personal data: the images from the Living Labs are processed "on the spot" thanks to artificial intelligence and only the count data and the characteristics of certain parameters are retained (individual or group visits, type of sports activity, duration of the visit to the Living Lab, etc.).
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