Drone-catchers and a facial-recognition plane to police Winter Olympics

A number of advanced safety measures will be rolled out during the upcoming Winter Olympics, with South Korean officials deploying planes capable of scanning the faces of people on the ground.

Drone-catchers and a facial-recognition plane to police Winter Olympics

The Pyeongchang Olympics anti-Terrorism and Safety Headquarters will also make use of “drone-catching drones”, equipped with nets to catch errant UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that are flagged by the security team. Instead of over-enthusiastic photographers, South Korean authorities will be on the lookout for drones that may be carrying bombs.

According to Korean news site Hankyoreh, the threat of terrorist drones is pertinent enough for the security forces to also use a drone detection radar developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), and radio signal-jamming guns to stop UAVs in the air. If all else fails, special-forces agents will be sent by helicopter to shoot the drones using shotguns.

The facial-recognition plane will meanwhile monitor activities at a ground level, watching crowds from a height of 150 to 200 meters. The aircraft comes with high-resolution CCTV capabilities, including facial-recognition technology. This will work alongside 900 motion-tracking CCTV cameras throughout the Olympic area. If anything is spotted, a security team will be deployed.

Other security measures include a fleet of three X-ray search vehicles, used to search the interiors of cars moving into the venues. A computer emergency response team (CERT) of around 700 people has also been set up to respond to any cyber threats.

“We are preparing to provide guests to the Pyeongchang Olympics with the safest competition in Winter Olympics history,” a source for the Pyeongchang Olympics anti-Terrorism and Safety Headquarters told Hankoreh.

Governments and security forces are increasingly using facial-recognition techniques to police major events. In the UK, facial recognition was used during the Notting Hill Carnival, leading to a warning by a leading watchdog that biometrics databases have gone “far beyond custody purposes”. In China, the use of this technology to monitor its populace has reached unsettling levels, with whole cities under the watchful eye of intelligent CCTV monitoring.

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics begin on 10 February, with around a million people expected to be present for the opening and closing ceremonies. North Korea will compete, with the country’s senior official Kim Yong-nam expected to attend the opening ceremony, where both Koreas are due to march under one flag.  

Image credit: Pyeongchang Olympics anti-Terrorism and Safety Headquarters

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