The Parisian Police Department has announced the implementation of new algorithmic video surveillance trials this weekend ahead of the forthcoming Olympics at public transportation venues throughout Paris. (Photo by Cesc Maymo/Getty Images)


Ahead of the Olympics, France to trial AI surveillance systems


The Parisian Police Department announced it will trial new so-called algorithmic video surveillance (AVS) systems at public transportation venues throughout Paris ahead of the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games.

The first trials, utilising AI and “smart cameras” and set to run from April 19 to April 22, will primarily focus on two major events in the French capital: the PSG vs Lyon football match on April 21 and a concert by US rock band Black Eyed Peas on April 20.

According to the Police Department, the use of AVS comes in light of rising national security concerns.

“These events appear particularly exposed to risks of acts of terrorism,” the law enforcement agency said.

“France is the Western country most affected by jihadist terrorism since 2012,” it added, stating that “10 successful attacks have been recorded since 2020”.

The trials aim to identify any unauthorised access to restricted or sensitive areas, monitor crowd movements in high-risk zones and detect abandoned or suspicious belongings or packages, according to the Police Department.

The upcoming tests take place after the French legislature in 2023 authorised the use of AI video surveillance for a trial period at large-scale events.

The new initiative follows a series of comprehensive security measures implemented by French authorities, including the deployment of 50,000 security personnel to safeguard the Olympics and the organisation of an invite-only opening ceremony for the event.

If AVS is to be used during the Olympic Games, the French authorities recently confirmed it would only be deployed in a limited manner.

Still, the trials have provoked some criticism; detractors fear these AI surveillance methods will be expanded to include facial recognition well after the proposed 2025 end date.

Regarding use of the system, Katia Roux, Freedoms advocacy officer for Amnesty International France, claimed: “This is still an interference in the right to privacy of thousands of people.”