Bad news for those of us who fear that the pandemic will result in a stronger surveillance society. While an increasing number of technologies designed to improve crowd monitoring and management in gathering places of all kinds are being used by authorities today, this should only be a premise for what will be played out in the near future. the scale of our whole society.
In general, crises are a great way to strengthen the development of security technologies designed to monitor crowds inexpensively (political). While the United States has faced continuous waves of mass shootings since 2018, a company called Athena launched a gun detection system that could be implemented wherever crowds gather.
While the current health crisis lays the foundation for what we consider normal, a French start-up called Outsight, whose skin detection camera we covered in the autonomous driving area at the start of the year, has announced the launch of what it calls the first autonomous laser capable of handling crowd movements. This technology makes it possible to identify and follow people based on risk characteristics, such as not wearing a mask, an abnormal temperature or not respecting physical distance, even in the middle of a crowd. dense or large crowded spaces.
“Ensuring security in public space”
Privacy defenders may well fall out of their chairs, but the reality is that in the shadow of this pandemic hides new standards of surveillance and control, and that they may well be much more stringent than what we are used. This could help us understand that Outsight technology does not use video capture. And it is certainly in the common interest to ensure that the guidelines on social distancing are respected.
Yet it is difficult to see anything other than the specter of a surveillance state in a technology designed to collect biostats such as temperature and to track individuals deemed to be at high risk. The technology is designed to be used in public spaces like airports, where surveillance is already high, but there is nothing to suggest that it will not migrate to spaces like stadiums and parks.
“The pandemic requires the implementation of realistic solutions to ensure the security of people in public spaces”, justifies Cédric Hutchings, CEO and co-founder of Outsight. “Through its efficiency and respect for private data, Outsight’s 3D surveillance is an extraordinary autonomous device that will help make the world safer,” said the director. An opinion that may well be participated by a growing number of politicians.