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Navigating the Use of Game-Changing Facial Recognition Software in Sports Venues & Stadiums

Navigating the Use of Game-Changing Facial Recognition Software in Sports Venues & Stadiums

Author: admin | 20 May 2024

In 2021, the New York Mets became the first Major League Baseball to deploy facial recognition software to enable facial ticketing through a program, ‘Mets Entry Express’. The advanced facial recognition technology was reportedly implemented to speed up wait times and eliminate the need to provide physical tickets to access entry. Instead, visitors were asked to upload photos of their faces which were later scanned at entry systems to enable an efficient entry process, without even looking for the tickets. In this article, we will talk about the catalysts behind the implementation of facial recognition in sports, deployment benefits for sporting events, associated privacy & ethical concerns, and how modern facial recognition solutions can address the challenges. 

Driving Factors Behind Implementation of Facial Recognition Technology in Sports Arenas 

The integration of facial recognition software in sports venues has transformed the sports industry by enhancing security and improving fans’ experience. From major championships to local sports arenas, facial recognition is implemented to accurately identify individuals and ward off blacklisted individuals to prevent misconduct or criminal activity. A few of the catalysts behind the integration of facial recognition in sports are briefly expanded here

1. Ticket Scalping 

Ticket scalping also referred to as ticket reselling is a deceptive practice where imposters purchase tickets for games or sporting events from online platforms or in person to resell them at higher prices. This practice drives up ticket prices and creates an uneven playing field, making it daunting for genuine fans to afford tickets for their favorite games. Women’s FA Final Cup, a top event in 2023, reportedly experienced a 429% increase in ticket reselling, costing 79.26 GBP each compared to the original price of 15 GBP. However, facial ticketing enables personalized tickets based on biometric identifiers and ensures non-transferable tickets, eliminating reselling activities. 

2. Flag Vandalism and Hooliganism 

Since many people gather there, sports venues and stadiums are prone to vandalism and hooliganism. Any trouble or potential incident can put audience safety at risk, affecting future visits or serious consequences. Traditional security systems are inadequate in limiting unauthorized access to sporting events as, most of the time, entrance tickets are not registered on real names. However, deploying advanced facial recognition in sports conducts real-time surveys of faces at access points and precisely scans crowds to identify unauthorized presence. 

3. Recognize Offenders & Blacklisted Individuals

As many people attend sporting events, it’s effortless for offenders or people with unethical intentions to conduct nefarious activities, posing severe threats to the overall event security. Acts of violence like vandalism, verbal abuse, unruly behavior, terrorism, criminal activity, theft, or physical altercations could be possible offenses damaging the well-being and safety of players & audiences. 

Automated entry systems and facial recognition technology can considerably address such offenses by potentially recognizing unauthorized individuals. This could be done precisely by scanning the crowd and by matching the faces against the available databases to identify potential troublemakers and offenders. 

How has AI Facial Recognition Transformed the Sports Industry? 

AI Facial recognition technology known for its potential applications and accurate identity verification, is being deployed by many sectors globally, including law enforcement, retail, e-commerce, financial institutions, and border control. In recent years, facial technology has taken a sharp turn and is entering the sports industry. Let’s briefly navigate how facial recognition in sports has upgraded the fan experience while minimizing liability. 

Navigating the Use of Game-Changing Facial Recognition Software in Sports Venues & Stadiums

1. Enhanced Security Measures 

The technology quickly identifies and recognizes people who are restricted from attending games or sporting events, preventing them from entering the premises and staving off potential threats. The crowd and large volume of people can be scanned in real-time, enabling monitoring of unusual and suspicious behavior. In addition, facial ticketing wards off unauthorized presence and allows fans to make ticket or food payments by scanning their faces. 

2. Heightened Operational Efficiency 

Advanced facial recognition systems in stadiums have streamlined various operational aspects of the sports industry, for instance, authorities can better allocate security personnel to high-risk areas by analyzing crowd behavior. By analyzing fan movements and attendance patterns individuals potentially involved in incidents or suspicious activities are recognized, enabling security teams to perform efficiently. 

3. Improved Fan Experience 

The facial recognition ticketing and process in sports venues offers personalized services, by presenting tailored promotions based on their past behavior and preferences. Providing personalized services makes the fan experience engaging and pleasant. Ticket verification using facial recognition has made it effortless for fans to purchase tickets and ultimately prevent fraudulent activities such as buying tickets in the name of others. In addition, facial ticketing eliminates the need to wait in long queues, saving time and making the entry process faster & contactless.

Dark Side of Innovation- Privacy & Ethical Concerns 

Many sports stadiums are deploying sophisticated technology due to effectiveness and advancements in facial recognition technology. Research by Privacy International (PI), a UK-based privacy watchdog, indicates that 25 of the top 100 soccer stadiums globally have implemented such advanced technology in their existing video surveillance to enhance efficiency. 

Paris 2024 Olympics Games scheduled to commence in July this summer, plans to promote responsible implementation of AI for public surveillance, mitigate potential risks, and identify high-impact areas for AI uses, as reported. However, PI contemplates the use of AI as a violation of constitutional rights and has appealed United Nations to look into this matter. 

  • Normalization of Surveillance Across All Societal Levels

The privacy watchdog stresses that using facial recognition in stadium access control potentially leads to crowd management, which would normalize mass surveillance. It spills a chilling effect on violating fundamental rights and preventing fans from enjoying or participating fully. Facial technology has the potential to capture, analyze, or collect facial biometrics in sports for individuals from public spaces without their knowledge, provoking serious questions about privacy concerns and mass surveillance. 

Pedestrian detection, using facial recognition to authenticate pedestrians, initially deployed for public safety, is now criticized for mass surveillance and monitoring of public places without the explicit consent of individuals. It casts chilling effects on individuals when they know they are continuously being watched and their activities are continually monitored. Stringent ethical guidelines, asking for explicit consent, and complying with regulatory standards could counteract the ethical considerations. 

  • Discrimination Based on Certain Genders or Races 

There is a documented history of facial recognition systems being used to discriminate against certain groups or genders, especially women. One of the most striking instances of this discrimination can be linked to Iran, where women have faced potential obstacles in attending public events or gaming events. In 2018, authorities in Iran utilized facial technology to detect and expel women seeking to attend soccer in the disguise of men. This instance suggests that facial recognition technology intentionally discriminates against women and keeps them under heightened surveillance. This discrimination doesn’t stop at gender but also proliferates to minority groups, races, especially black people, and activists. 

  • Potential Exploitation by Authorities 

The misuse of facial recognition systems by authorities or influential people comes in various forms; the agenda behind this exploitation could be personal, political, or commercial interests. One instance of such exploitation can be linked to the inappropriate use of technology by the owner of Madison Square Garden in 2023. He inadequately employed the technology to identify and ban lawyers working for the firms who filed lawsuits against him. This exploitation of technology for personal gains indicates that the technology was used for personal rivalry rather than security purposes.  

How Facial Recognition Solutions Can Effectively Address Privacy & Ethical Challenges 

Privacy and ethical concerns have been actively raised, highlighting the exploitation of the technology for personal or political interests. Many jurisdictions globally have enacted laws and regulations outlining that asking for consent from individuals before collecting or storing biometric information is crucial. 

Read More: Strong Authentication vs Multi-Factor Authentication

Explicit Consent from Individuals Before Collecting & Using Biometric Data

Many US states, including Texas, Washington, and Illinois, mandate that individuals be asked for consent before collecting their information and inform them how their information is being collected. Taking the instance of sports venues, Illinois makes it compulsory that 

  • Patrons must be informed in writing that biometric identifiers and certain information are being captured and stored for later use. 
  • The writing must also include for what purpose the information is being collected and for how long it will be stored. 
  • A written document must be acquired from the patron authorizing the use of specific biometric information. 

Written consent is essential to make individuals aware that their biometric information is used for surveillance to safeguard them from the harmful consequences of any criminal or terrorist activity. 

Train AI Algorithms on Diverse Datasets to Reduce Biases 

Facial recognition systems are known to produce biased results, discriminating against certain genders, races, or ethnicities. Facial recognition solutions can effectively address this by training AI algorithms on diverse data of varying races, genders, or ethnicities and regularly monitoring biases to ensure enhanced authentication.  

Reducing False Positives & False Negatives 

Facial recognition systems must comply with the standards set by NIST to achieve accurate & precise authentication. NIST (National Insitute of Standards and Technology) is a global standard-setting body that regularly evaluates the performance of facial recognition solutions and sets standards for these solutions to address rising challenges. Facial recognition technology, known to recognize wrong identities falsely and often reject an authorized entry, can mitigate these challenges by complying with NIST standards.

For 1:1 matching, facial recognition must develop advanced algorithms with a false match rate (FMR) threshold limit to be set to 0.000001 so that the probability of falsely identifying individual and racial violence could be actively counteracted. On the other hand, for 1:N matching, the threshold limit is set for an acceptable false negative identification rate (FNIR) when a false identification rate (FPIR) is set to 0.003. 

Limit the Widespread Deployment in Public spaces 

Avoiding the prevalent deployment of facial recognition and limiting the scope could indicate that the technology is being employed for its intended use. Authorities must clearly define the purpose behind their implementation and let people know that crowd management is done to enhance public safety & timely detect suspicious activities. 

Final Thoughts 

Undoubtedly, facial recognition software is being deployed in Olympic games and sporting events to enhance the security of the overall event and improve the fan experience through facial ticketing. However, the use of facial technology in sports has provoked a serious debate about its use in mass surveillance, exploitation by higher authorities, or political concerns. 

Advanced facial recognition solutions can efficiently address these challenges by training AI algorithms on diverse datasets, limiting the scalability in public places, asking for explicit consent from individuals, and complying with relevant regulations. Visit Facia Today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does facial recognition work in sports, venues, and stadiums?

Facial recognition technology in sports venues is deployed to enhance event security, increase operational efficiency, and improve fan experience by accurately analyzing the facial features of the event attendees. Face matching, which is considerably 1:1, ensures that the claimed identity belongs to the genuine person while 1:N recognizes suspicious individuals by cross-matching faces against databases & watchlists. The cameras deployed at entry points scan individuals’ faces to authenticate ID and allow entry without requiring physical tickets.

How does facial recognition software improve security in sports and venues?

Facial recognition software improves security in sports venues and stadiums by restricting unauthorized access, preventing ticket scalping, efficient entry process, real-time identification, and prompt crowd management.

What are the benefits of using facial recognition software in sports venues?

Facial recognition in sports has substantially upgraded the sports industry by offering numerous benefits including enhanced security measures, improved fan experience, efficient access control, and increased operational efficiency.

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