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Rule of LawFrance

Paris tests AI surveillance ahead of Olympics

April 19, 2024

French police on Friday announced they will test AI-supported surveillance at events in the capital to prepare for this summer’s Olympics. Weekend tests will cover two large events and nearby public transport sites.

CCTV cameras mounted on a cast-iron lamp post with a Parisian facade in the background
Officials are on high alert over security concerns for this summer's massive sporting and commercial eventImage: Derajinski Daniel/abaca/picture alliance

Police in the French capital Paris have given rail company SNCF and transport operator RATP authorization to conduct surveillance tests at four different train stations near two large events this weekend as a way to fine-tune their abilities ahead of this summer's Olympics.

The companies will have access to images from more than 100 cameras. Those images will then be analyzed using artificial intelligence to run "intelligent and algorithm-based technology" that will surveil crowds attending a pop concert by the Black-Eyed Peas as well as a soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyon.

Scanning crowds, looking for abandoned bags

Authorities say surveillance software will help police identify people moving into designated areas, as well as scanning for abandoned bags, crowd size, and crowd movement. This weekend's is the second such test conducted in the city, following another at a large concert in March.

Paris and Olympic officials are set to use AI-assisted surveillance this summer when the city will host the Olympics between July 26 and August 11.

Officials say the cameras will not be making use of facial recognition software, but body scanners will be used.

Paris has been targeted in terror attacks in the past and there are concerns about security at this summer's opening ceremonies, which will, for the first time, not take place in a stadium but rather upon the River Seine that runs through the city.

A recent terror attack on a large concert in Moscow prompted France to raise its terror alert to its highest threat level. French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that a contingency plan was in place to move the opening ceremony to another venue should security concerns require.

France races to bolster security ahead of Olympics

The International Olympic Committee also plans to use AI to protect athletes from online harassment and to help broadcasters improve the viewing experience for people watching from home.

"We are determined to exploit the vast potential of AI in a responsible way,"  IOC President Thomas Bach said.

js/lo (AP, dpa)