CrowdMeter privacy policy and terms of use

What is CrowdMeter?

CrowdMeter is an app that shows the expected crowdedness of various destinations on a map so you can make more informed choices about where to go.

Why create CrowdMeter?

The idea behind CrowdMeter is that when people can more easily avoid crowds and long checkout lines, this will reduce virus transmission and help “flatten the curve” for COVID and other viruses.  Click here to see a brief video that explains why we created CrowdMeter.

Why do you think CrowdMeter will help?

We have run extensive computer simulations suggesting that even moderate usage of CrowdMeter could emulate herd immunity, and even more so in partially vaccinated populations.  If you are interested, you can watch a video about this here or read this info sheet.  Please see Legal Disclaimer below.

Who can use CrowdMeter?

This beta version of CrowdMeter is created to pilot the app in Ithaca, NY, USA.  For now, it only works in this location.  Once we collect user feedback and see that it is working as we expect, then it will be fine-tuned and scaled up to accommodate more users and a larger geographic area.

How accurate is CrowdMeter?

We don’t know yet.  One goal of the Ithaca pilot is to compare actual crowdedness (by counting people in a store) with the CrowdMeter’s crowdedness estimates and to app users’ subjective reports through the app on whether the crowdedness level they observed is the same or different than what CrowdMeter indicated (please see Legal Disclaimer below).

What happens if I make a decision based on CrowdMeter and then get infected with a virus?

We make no claims about the accuracy of CrowdMeter (that is one aspect of the platform we seek to evaluate through this pilot).  Moreover, viruses can be transmitted via surfaces and can linger in the air, thus it is possible to contract a virus even in a completely empty venue.  We hope that CrowdMeter is useful in reducing virus transmission, but we do not know if that is true and you are responsible for your own decisions (please see Legal Disclaimer below).

Who created CrowdMeter?

The CrowdMeter idea was conceived in January 2020 by Pietro Michelucci at the Human Computation Institute, who, with support from the Aspen Institute, led a world-class team of scientists (see to evaluate the plausibility and safety of the idea through agent-based simulations.  This app was created by the Human Computation Institute development team in partnership with Microsoft Research, who assisted in developing algorithms to predict future crowdedness.

Who owns CrowdMeter?

The Human Computation Institute owns the CrowdMeter app as well as the idea of displaying live or predicted crowdedness information on a map to help people make informed decisions about where to go (patent pending).

What data will be collected?

All the data we collect will be anonymous.  This includes usage data, which includes how people use the app, related location data (as permitted through the app), and user feedback.  The data is stored on secure managed servers.

How will you use the data?

We will use the data to assess how well the app is working, including how often people use it and for what kinds of errands, the accuracy of the current crowdedness estimates and predicted crowdedness for future times, and how easy it is to use.  We will also collect anonymous free form feedback from users that tell us what they like or don’t like and any ideas for improving the app.  This anonymous data will be shared only with direct project collaborators under strict data usage agreements, which do not allow sharing with other third parties, and only for the purpose of improving methods that will ultimately improve the impacts of CrowdMeter.

How can I have my data removed from your servers even if it’s anonymous?

Just give us feedback through the app requesting to have your data removed.  We won’t know who you are, but we will be able to remove your data.  Eventually, we may add a button that will do this automatically.

How can I find out when CrowdMeter is released in my town?

Enter your email address at and click “Notify me when you go live!” and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on when CrowdMeter is released more broadly.

How can I contact you with any questions or concerns?

Send an email to  (We will not be able to associate your email address with your data, because your data is anonymized.)

Legal Disclaimer

The Human Computation Institute makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the absolute accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the CrowdMeter app and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this app including crowdedness estimates. No warranty of any kind, implied, expressed, or statutory, including but not limited to the warranties of non-infringement of third party rights, title, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and freedom from computer virus, is given with respect to the contents of this app or its links to other Internet resources.

The Human Computation Institute presents the information on this app as a service to the general public. Included in this app are map renderings designed to provide accurate and current information about venue crowdedness. Use of these maps and related information does not make you a client of the Human Computation Institute.

While the information and maps on this site are about venue crowdedness, they are not intended as advice or as a substitute for making one’s own assessments about a venue’s crowdedness or as a substitute for making independent decisions about where to go. Instead, the information and maps on this site are intended to provide general information and are not intended to provide, nor are they the equivalent of, legal or professional advice.

Anyone viewing the maps and information on this site should also make their own observations and use their own judgment when deciding where and when to run an errand or visit a venue. The Human Computation Institute makes every effort to ensure that information regarding crowdedness conveyed in this app is accurate and up to date. However, generating historical, live, and predicted crowdedness estimates can be complicated and unreliable.  Moreover, the use of this app by many people may create unintended feedback loops that result in rapid crowdedness changes that reduce the accuracy of the information shown in the app. The Human Computation Institute cannot ensure the information in this app is current nor be responsible for any use to which it is put. Do not rely solely on this information for making any decision.

By using this app, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions defined above, including, but not limited to this Legal Disclaimer and data usage. If you do not wish to be bound by these terms and conditions, you should not access or use this app.