Learning from Outdoor Webcams: Surveillance of Physical Activity Across Environments

  • J. Aaron HippEmail author
  • Deepti Adlakha
  • Amy A. Eyler
  • Rebecca Gernes
  • Agata Kargol
  • Abigail H. Stylianou
  • Robert Pless
Part of the Springer Geography book series (SPRINGERGEOGR)


Publicly available, outdoor webcams continuously view the world and share images. These cameras include traffic cams, campus cams, ski-resort cams, etc. The Archive of Many Outdoor Scenes (AMOS) is a project aiming to geolocate, annotate, archive, and visualize these cameras and images to serve as a resource for a wide variety of scientific applications. The AMOS dataset has archived over 750 million images of outdoor environments from 27,000 webcams since 2006. Our goal is to utilize the AMOS image dataset and crowdsourcing to develop reliable and valid tools to improve physical activity assessment via online, outdoor webcam capture of global physical activity patterns and urban built environment characteristics.

This project’s grand scale-up of capturing physical activity patterns and built environments is a methodological step forward in advancing a real-time, non-labor intensive assessment using webcams, crowdsourcing, and eventually machine learning. The combined use of webcams capturing outdoor scenes every 30 min and crowdsources providing the labor of annotating the scenes allows for accelerated public health surveillance related to physical activity across numerous built environments. The ultimate goal of this public health and computer vision collaboration is to develop machine learning algorithms that will automatically identify and calculate physical activity patterns.


Webcams Physical activity Built environment Crowdsourcing Outdoor environments 



This work was funded by the Washington University in St. Louis University Research Strategic Alliance pilot award and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1R21CA186481. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Aaron Hipp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Deepti Adlakha
    • 2
    • 3
  • Amy A. Eyler
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rebecca Gernes
    • 2
    • 3
  • Agata Kargol
    • 4
  • Abigail H. Stylianou
    • 4
  • Robert Pless
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and Center for Geospatial AnalyticsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Brown School, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Prevention Research Center, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Computer Science and EngineeringWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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