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Using this project

Setting up this project requires an IT background. There is also no graphical interface to edit the website – essentially you will write articles and cut/combine videos in a text editor using a very technical format (a combination of programming and markup language). So even "just" editing the contents of the site currently requires IT experience. Long story short, it's not usable by end users, at least not yet.

Repository contents

This repository currently contains both of:

  • project independent code and tooling
  • articles, data and other project specific things for

With reasonable effort it should be possible to completely split the two. Please create an issue if you want to use the technology for an independent project and we can work out the technical details. As long as there is only une user (=, I intend to keep everything in a single repository for convenience and efficiency reasons.

What's included?

The project mostly uses open source software to provide its functionality. There are notable exceptions:

  • video stabilization needs to happen on the camera, there is no tooling included to "deshake" videos.
  • the search results for streets, points of interest, etc. are provided through ESRI and Maptiler.
  • Satellite imagery is also provided through either of these two companies, although a reverse proxy is used to conserve privacy.
  • display of street polyline (e.g. when clicking a search result) requires external tooling to provide OpenStreetMap extracts. This is currently provided by Geofabrik GmbH as a service to the OpenStreetMap community, on which this project piggy backs. The additional processing necessary to integrate this data is done from within the project, though.
  • the machine learning model used to detect license plates and faces is not included. I can upload mine if desired, it's around 1.5 GB.

The website is written in Elixir, using the Phoenix Framework and Live View to provide the frontend to the end users. The interactive parts that need to happen in the browser are written in JavaScript. Styling uses SCSS, a super-set of regular CSS.

You will need to setup a reverse proxy for encryption (TLS/SSL) and more efficient video streaming. If you don't have one yet, Caddy is a good choice.

The tooling meant to be used by the developer is also written in Elixir. It will run more complex tasks in containers to ease the effort of setting up the development dependencies. The most important ones are:

  • yolov5 for license plate and face detection. Requires a pre-trained model, which is not shipped in this repository (see above).
  • ffmpeg with suitable libraries to blur the license plates and faces as well as render the videos in a format suitable for streaming.

Cost and hardware considerations

Personal effort

Obviously you will have to spend your time on setting up this project and learning how to use it. In it's current state it is also not very polished for new users, so you will require a high frustration tolerance.

Development computer

You'll also need a laptop or desktop computer running a unix-like operating system for developing. It has only been tested on Debian/Linux. For basic usage, pretty much any machine will do.

However, especially face and license plate detection benefits heavily from a dedicated graphics cards. Any used card that supports CUDA is probably good enough. Since the video encoders used are not able to take advantage of the graphics card, the difference is less pronounced:

2018 notebook 2014 gaming PC
one frame 7 seconds 0.2 seconds
10min @ 25fps 29 hours 55 minutes
one frame 2 seconds 1.5 seconds
10min @ 25fps 8.5 hours 6.25 hours

If you want to train your own machine learning model for detection, you will need a very high-end graphics card. The ones with enough memory to allow training at a high resolution are very expensive, and you don't need them for a long time. I recommend to rent these in the cloud (good search term: "rent gpu machine learning", there's lots of competition in this space).

Video camera

In principle you can use any camera for the purpose. However, specialized action cameras usually beat even high end cell phone cameras while still being easily mountable on a bicycle or dashboard.

Built-in image stabilization is usually a must. Action cameras from 2021 and later have decent ones built in; or you can re-use other stabilizing equipment like a gimbal. The more the action camera does on its own, the more convenient it will be to setup. If you want horizon leveling (picture doesn't tilt when you lean into bend with a bike) look at the maximum angle with the recording mode you want to use. There are sometimes surprising limitations where you can only have horizon leveling with a very narrow picture, for example.

On camera time-lapse is also nice to have. It's possible to achieve this in software, but the results are not as good and you have to spend additional processing time.

In general, you get what you pay for in this market. Cheap action cameras will result in bad picture quality, while the high-end ones give you good quality. If you are on a budget, rather buy a high-end used one than an cheap knock-off one.

Navigation / Routing

Either know the path you want to film by heart, or setup some kind of routing through your cellphone or more specialized device. Any mistake will cost you time down the line and the resulting video is also less pleasant to watch:

  • finding the timestamps where to cut/join videos is effortful
  • camera position jumps or angle changes can be disorienting, so videos should be joined when they are at the exact same position.

Let's look at an example: the route you want to film goes straight, but you accidentally make a right turn. In everyday life you could just make a u-turn to get back to the intersection and make a right there to get to the intended route again. When you later try to put these videos together, essentially the whole intersection will be missing because you lack the "straight through the intersection" segment.

Hosting costs

The website compiles down to some shell scripts and binaries. That means a simple file hosting is not enough and you need at least some possibility to run arbitrary executables. There are few requirements beyond that, i.e. there are no particular performance considerations. That means that even the cheapest VPS hosters will work.

10 minutes of rendered video need roughly 2.8 GB of storage with the default quality levels and fallbacks when there are video playback issues. If the video codecs and browser video support improves, this number might go down in the future.


This will install all the software you need to run the development version on your machine. You can also build releases and deploy them via SSH with this.

Below are installation instructions for Debian and its derivates. You'll need Elixir 1.13+. The repository contains a .tool-versions that compatible version managers like asdf can use to install the right versions for you.

# standard tooling
sudo apt-get install build-essential git inotify-tools josm nodejs npm unzip

# give yourself access to Docker (needs re-login usually)
sudo usermod -a -G docker $(whoami)

# (A) Elixir/Erlang from distribution
sudo apt-get install elixir erlang-dev erlang-xmerl
# (B) …or via asdf or similar package managers
sudo apt-get install autoconf automake libssl-dev libncurses5-dev
asdf plugin add erlang
asdf plugin add elixir
asdf install

# install Erlang/Elixir package management dependencies
mix local.hex --force
mix local.rebar --force

# project itself
git clone
cd veloroute
mix deps.get
npm install --prefix ./assets

You'll need to a place to store your videos, both your private originals and the processed versions that get served on site. Due to their size, they are not hosted within the git repository and are not included when building the release. Instead, symlink them:

cd veloroute
ln -s /path/to/your/video/storage videos/
mix velo.setup

After this, you should be able to run the development server and look at the website using mix phx.server, or build a complete release using mix deploy.