Privacy-friendly statistical counting for pedestrian dynamics

Valeriu Daniel Stanciu*, Maarten van Steen, Ciprian Dobre, Andreas Peter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Relying on Wi-Fi signals broadcasted by smartphones became the de-facto standard in the domain of pedestrian crowd monitoring. This method got the edge over other traditional means owing to the fact that insights are built upon data which uniquely identifies individuals and, thus, allows highly accurate crowd profiling over time. On the other hand, handling such uniquely identifying data in such a way that it does not expose the sensed individuals to potential privacy infringements proves to be a difficult task. Although several protection techniques were proposed, they yield data which, combined with other external knowledge, can still be used for tracing back to specific individuals. To address this issue, we propose a construction which protects the short-term storage and processing of privacy-sensitive Wi-Fi detections under strong cryptographic guarantees and makes available in the clear, as end results, only statistical counts of crowds. To produce these statistical counts, we make use of homomorphically encrypted Bloom filters as facilitators for oblivious set membership testing under encryption. We implement the system and perform evaluation on both simulated data and a real-world crowd-monitoring dataset, demonstrating that it is feasible to achieve highly accurate statistical counts in a privacy-friendly way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-192
Number of pages15
JournalComputer communications
Early online date6 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Crowd monitoring
  • Homomorphic encryption
  • Pedestrian dynamics
  • Privacy-preservation
  • Statistical counting
  • Bloom filters


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