Fyma, drones and 5G: the future of urban analytics

Project – analytics for the F1 Grand Prix

In the summer of 2021 Fyma used live camera feeds from stationary drones for the first time during the Dutch F1 Grand Prix (read all about it here). We measured pedestrian traffic moving away from the race track towards public transport train stations, providing live analytics to Dutch NS stations, responsible for managing over 400 train stations and surrounding areas across the country, so they could plan capacity better and avoid queuing. We monitored a specific number of people per minute to know when additional trains would need to be added to handle the load of people.

The project was a success and captured valuable data on people flows and proved the use case for operational capacity planning for large events for (public) transport providers. However, the drone took time to set up, and the equipment used was highly specialised. The beauty of Fyma is that even with this specialised drone equipment it took roughly 30 seconds to connect the drone to Fyma’s AI brain and start to collect data from its images.

This led to further exploration of drones – for traffic analytics

This first experiment got us thinking that these days all the components needed for doing drone-based analytics are available with standard hardware. In theory, you just need a 5G smartphone, a regular drone, and Fyma to do the analytics. The expansion of 5G networks creates a huge business opportunity because it offers a stable and low latency signal that can transmit a reliable video stream to Fyma’s AI engine. To try this out, Fyma partnered with Finland’s largest mobile network operator Elisa who have a new 5G network and were the first telco in the world to use 5G for commercial purposes.

For this project, a 5G Android phone was attached to a drone which was flown near the city of Helsinki, Finland’s capital, by Elisa’s tech team for 30 minute segments at a time. The phone live streamed video straight to Fyma, providing the same functionality we tested at the Dutch F1, but for a quarter of the cost. Once the monitoring concluded, the phone and drone could be returned to use for other purposes.

In October of 2021 we tested this setup further on traffic analytics and again with Elisa we monitored a roundabout intersection in Helsinki yet again. The drone was flown into position, then Fyma’s virtual gates and sensors were drawn (ref image below) and analytics streamed via our portal to the client. The project showed that using a very basic drone and 5G phone produced equivalent results to monitoring a video feed directly from a stationary CCTV camera – just with lots more flexibility as a drone can access bird’s eye view and provide a much better overview of a junction than a single camera could.

Opportunities for more

Combining commercially available drones, phones and 5G opens up exciting opportunities for temporary and immediate monitoring of urban settings in place of expensive alternatives, or permanent infrastructure. Furthermore, because Fyma’s AI system is fully GDPR compliant and we do not record or analyse human faces (nor any other special category data), this setup can be used for a wide range of use cases where permanent infrastructure may not exist, but data analytics is required quickly, such as:

We’re working on more applications for this type of technology (including international ports and shipping container placement within their bounds for example), so get in touch with your use case and let’s explore that together.

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