The monitoring of activity on our city streets has a broad interest for local planners and policy makers.

This project developed from UBDC’s existing public realm infrastructure project, which aims to fill some of the data gaps on mobility and activity on city centre streets where there is planned infrastructure investment. However, tracking pedestrian activity is expensive, either using a variety of sensors or short-run counts from video cameras. These methods are not particularly flexible, as sensors are generally fixed, and permission to position video cameras needs to be obtained. Most CCTV cameras are used infrequently throughout the day for their primary focus of monitoring community safety. Many UK cities now have extensive digital CCTV networks and the UK “has more CCTV activity than any other European country, per capita”. This project explores the possibilities of using spare capacity in the CCTV network to monitor activity on city streets.

Aims and objectives

This project aims to explore the use of CCTV images and video to measure activity on streets in cities and to explore the possibilities of using spare capacity in existing CCTV to produce regular statistics on activity levels.

The project team will:

  • Develop object detection software for processing images to generate counts of pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Develop a methodology for processing CCTV images within the CCTV suite, without the need for researchers to access the images, maintaining confidentiality and integrity of the original data.
  • Develop with Glasgow City Council (GCC) methods for ensuring image and video capture does not interfere with Community Safety’s daily operation.
  • Pilot the software and implementation in GCC’s CCTV suite on 4 cameras.
  • Measure pedestrian and vehicle activity on the streets in Glasgow’s “Avenues” programme.
  • Monitor activity on streets and parks across Glasgow during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Continue to develop object detection software to improve our understanding of activity on the street.


Lead: Dr Mark Livingston

Team: Dr Andrew McHugh, Dr David McArthur, Luis Serra

GCPH Team: Bruce Whyte

GCC Team: Kimberley Hose, Keith Scott, Kalim Uddin