Russian airports testing mass deployment of facial recognition technology

A number of large Russian airports are testing the possible mass deployment of facial recognition technology to boost border security and airport traffic control. Negotiations are ongoing with developers NtechLab, VisionLabs and Speech Technology Center, reports Russian news agency TASS.

Without revealing the name of the airport he is negotiating with, NtechLab CEO Alexander Minin believes that 18 months would be the ideal timeframe to properly roll out the technology and ensure full legal compliance. Any other deadline such as 6 months was labeled unrealistic.

“The system at the airport can be deployed in a few days on the cameras that already exist, plus installing new ones depending on the scale of the task and the territory,” Minin explained, as translated by Google. “The main difficulty is building integration, information processing processes. What happens when we discover a criminal or potential terrorist? Who should react to a person on the way to the airport, who should do what at this moment? Actually, the situation is very difficult, because depending on who we found – a terrorist, a hooligan, a thief, a criminal, or a potentially armed person – different services must respond.”

Before proceeding to mass deployment, Minin expects the results of the pilot projects to be publicly disclosed by the end of 2019 or early 2020. NtechLab came second in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Activity Extended Video (ActEV) Prize Challenge for its use of artificial intelligence for activity detection.

Ilya Romanov, commercial director of VisionLabs, confirmed their algorithms and various projects are either in negotiation or already under assessment at Russian airports but did not disclose how the technology is used exactly.

VisionLabs is not only working with Russian airports, but is also collaborating with foreign airports to introduce facial recognition algorithms, it is developing interbank services based on facial recognition and an algorithm for cars to recognize driver identity from a distance.

“We are actively working with Russian and foreign airports,” Romanov said. “We are currently working on projects in Russia, the Middle East, North and Latin America. We are implementing projects together with local partners abroad.”

Speech Technology Center is developing the Vizir biometric facial recognition system currently deployed at airports in the Sakhalin Region and Saransk.

The global airport security market is worth $8.83 billion, and will flourish over the next few years, according to a report from Visiongain. Biometric systems are considered in the report as one of the four main system types in the market, in which ongoing threats to commercial aviation from terrorism and other criminal activity are expected to continue driving growth.

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