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France runs AI surveillance tests at concerts ahead of Olympic deployment

France runs AI surveillance tests at concerts ahead of Olympic deployment

The games have not yet begun, but AI-assisted video surveillance is already being tested by police in Paris, as organizers look to beef up security measures ahead of the 2024 Olympic Summer Games taking place there this July and August. However, according to reports from The Telegraph and Le Monde, algorithmic facial recognition is not among the tools being deployed.

French authorities tested six AI-enabled cameras at two recent concerts by the English synth band Depeche Mode. The system runs on the Cityvision software platform developed by French intelligent video analytics firm Wintics. The algorithms deployed for real-time surveillance have been trained to detect eight specific types of suspicious or potentially dangerous events. Weapons, fire, bodies on the ground and abandoned packages will send alerts to operators, as will crowd behaviors such as mass movement, trespassing in restricted areas, overcrowding and pushing (or driving) against the flow of traffic.

The move to allow AI-assisted surveillance and behavioral analytics started last spring, when France’s top constitutional court opened the door to algorithmic processing of video feeds during the Olympic and Paralympic games. The law includes testing as a condition, and the current round of tests is focused on refining and configuring the Cityvision software.

The exclusion of facial recognition is part of the effort to assuage concerns from privacy advocates and other critics, and to enshrine the ethical and regulated use of AI surveillance in the law. It also restricts the use of the tech to sports or other large cultural events for which terrorism is a concern.

The program also has a time limit: it will expire on March 31, 2025, once the games are done.

The 2024 Olympic Summer Games run from July 26 to August 11. The 2024 Paralympic Summer Games run from August 28 to September 8.


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