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Paris Olympics: Second AI surveillance test completed

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance
Paris Olympics: Second AI surveillance test completed

In preparation for the Olympics, Paris has tested its AI surveillance systems deploying crowd surveillance technology during two large events.

With police authorization, rail company SNCG and transport operator RATP conducted the surveillance testing over the weekend. The tests took place at four train stations close to a pop concert by the Black Eyed Peas and a soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyon.

The two companies were allowed access to images from 100 cameras. Signs and posters have been installed at the entrances and exits of the trial areas to warn users, television network TF1 reports.

This weekend marked the second time Paris has tested out the system since March, when it was described by the police as largely a success.

The trials are being conducted in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games with the AI surveillance deployment slated from July 26 to August 11. Facial recognition will not be deployed but body scanners will be in use, according to officials.

The software for analyzing video streams for threats in public spaces is supplied by four companies: Videtics, Orange Business, ChapsVision and Wintics. The system flags eight different categories of events: crowd surges, abnormally heavy crowds, abandoned objects, presence or use of weapons, a person on the ground, fire and contravening traffic direction rules.

Paris’ deployment of AI technology, however, has come under criticism from civil rights groups and some lawmakers.

Amnesty International, the European Civic Forum and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the Olympic Games Law brought in May 2023 that legalized the use of AI-powered surveillance. A subsequent court order defined measures to prevent the system from being used to collect biometric data.

Critics have warned of the system’s potential for “mission creep” and chilling effect on protests. The concerns have been highlighted by reports of the government’s plan to ramp up information gathering by 20 percent during the Olympics, including image and sound capture, geolocation, wiretapping and data collection, according to Le Monde.

French officials defended the surveillance system, noting an increased danger of terrorist attacks. After terrorist attacks in Moscow in March, the country raised its terror alert to the highest level.

The French Ministry of Interior has created an evaluation committee for monitoring civil liberties during the surveillance trials. France’s Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera has also noted that the algorithm does not substitute for human judgment, which remains decisive.”

In addition to software, Paris plans to add 400 security cameras, bringing the total to around 4,400.

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