Rotterdam to track all mobile phones entering city

Rotterdam will soon start measuring how many people visit the city and how long they stay there with the new City Traffic system. Visitors will be automatically registered in the city center through mobile phone signals, Bluetooth and WiFi. 

By measuring the visitor flow to the city, the municipality can monitor the growth of the people coming to the city. The municipal executive has laid down an aim of increasing the traffic by 10 percent.

"The measuring system will show the influence of spatial and programmatic changes in the city" says Alderman Adriaan Visser in his letter to the city council.

Individuals will be logged by the MAC address of the device they use, a unique identifier given to many electronic devices.

The supervisory board expressed its concerns about people's privacy since the system is using mobile phone signals for the measurement, but according to Visser, the signals can not be traced to an individual. All phones have the unique MAC address, but "it would take a disproportionate amount of effort to resolve the user of the device by its MAC address," says Visser.

In addition, the municipality would only use information that consists of average and aggregated data that would not show MAC addresses.

The City Traffic system will cost approximately 25,000 euros a year.