Pushing for Gold: Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics adopting Facial Recognition Technology and Robotics to Ensure Peak (Security) Performance

By Cameron Abbott, Max Evans and James Gray

It seems that Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) is the flavour of the month. Recently, we blogged about the adoption of FRT in the SkyCity Adelaide Casino to identify barred gamblers, which comes following the commencement of Perth’s 12 month trial of FRT conducted in co-operation with law enforcement agencies. However, on an international stage, organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have begun testing of FRT access systems to boost security, according to a Report by the Australian Financial Review.

As a key objective of the games to deliver a lasting technology legacy, images of every accredited individual will be collected prior to the competition, with an identity verification process taking 0.3 seconds to identify individuals from a database including over 1.6 million faces. In addition to the development of a secure entry system, autonomous patrolling surveillance robots with 360-degree video, metal detectors and thermal imaging sensors will be used at games site to identify suspicious or dangerous objects, whilst other autonomous security robots will provide multilingual instructions and information to spectators and officials including evacuation directions in the event of an emergency. Special-use robots will also assist in competition through functions such as the retrieval of equipment in field events.

Whilst we remain cautious about the continued adoption of FRT, the measures as a whole demonstrate organisers’ acknowledgement of the utility of technology in facilitating increased security where large data volumes make the task difficult for humans. We hope that organisers understand the risks associated with the use of such technology, including the potential risks of abuse and take active steps to mitigate such risks to ensure that Tokyo isn’t knocked off the security podium.

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