Facial recognition system set to be used in Olympic security

NEC Red Rockets' volleyball player Haruyo Shimamura demonstrates the face recognition system for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which is developed by NEC corp, in Tokyo, Japan August 7, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Facial recognition system set to be used in Olympic security

TOKYO: A facial recognition system will be used across an Olympics for the first time as Tokyo organizers work to keep security tight and efficient at dozens of venues during the 2020 Games.
The NeoFace technology developed by NEC Corp. will be customized to monitor every accredited person — including athletes, officials, staff and media — at more than 40 venues, games villages and media centers, Olympic and company officials said Tuesday.
Olympic officials said Tokyo will be the first Olympic host to introduce the face recognition technology at all venues. The system is expected to effectively eliminate entry with forged IDs, reduce congestion at accredited waiting lines and reduce athletes' stress under hot weather.
Tsuyoshi Iwashita, Tokyo 2020 executive director of security, said venues that are spread around in and out of Tokyo would be a big burden in achieving high levels of security.
"By introducing the face recognition system, we hope to achieve high levels of safety, efficiency and smooth operation at security check points before entry," he said, adding that the system would contribute to less stressful environment for athletes.
Iwashita said a test last year showed that gate checks with the facial recognition was more than twice the pace of the conventional system using X-ray with visual siting by security guards.
The facial images of every accredited person for the Olympics and Paralympics will be collected after the approval process and stored in a database to be used to verify identities at accreditation check points.
NEC says its biometric identification technology is used at airports and elsewhere in 70 countries, including Japan.


Scientists amazed as Canadian permafrost thaws 70 years early

General view of a landscape of partially thawed Arctic permafrost near Mould Bay, Canada, in this handout photo released June 18, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Scientists amazed as Canadian permafrost thaws 70 years early

  • “This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately”

LONDON: Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilized the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.
“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters by telephone. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.”
With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.
The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analizing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned Cold War-era radar base more than 300 km from the nearest human settlement.
Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognizable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.
The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks — waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.
Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.
“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a post-doctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.”
Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.
Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
With scientists warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilization in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.
“Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown and it’s happening before our very eyes,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. “This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.”