social distancing

Public webcams are telling us whether people are social distancing

Social distancing in Massachusetts

BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters

Social distancing is one of the main weapons in the fight against the coronavirus – and computer scientists have used a database of public cameras to keep track of how well we are following the guidelines.

Since April, Isha Ghodgaonkar at Purdue University, Indiana, and her colleagues have gathered around 0.5 terabytes of data per week from 11,140 public cameras connected to the internet.

More than 10.4 million images from the webcams have been run through deep-learning neural networks that automatically detect objects and differentiate them from people. Bounding boxes are drawn around the …