Tri-City hockey crowds to be taped for U.S. security research

from Hockey fans at the season opener of the Tri-City Americans will have a
chance to help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security improve its
facial recognition capabilities.

Video will be taped by Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory at the Sept. 21 game in a portion of the
Toyota Center in Kennewick. 

It is planned to be used by the U.S.
government to test the capabilities of facial recognition software that
is available or in the prototype stage.

state-of-the-art facial recognition technologies could be used to
identify terrorists and criminals in public areas, according to the
national lab in Richland.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science
and Technology Directorate works to make technology available to
agencies ranging from local police offices to the U.S. Border Patrol,
Transportation Security Administration and Immigration and Customs

PNNL previously has collected video at the Toyota
Center for work with the Department of Homeland Security. But past video
either has not captured members of the public or has been too low
resolution to identify faces.

Hockey fans who don’t want to be on the video will be given options to avoid the cameras.

video will be shot in the arena and signs will be set up in the
corridors around the arena to direct people to areas without cameras.
PNNL staff will be available to answer questions.

PNNL has purchased 46 seats at the arena to make sure walking areas
are clear for those who don’t want their video captured
, said PNNL
engineer Marcia Kimura. Information explaining the project also has been
mailed to season ticket holders.

“If they didn’t want to be videotaped, they could very easily not be videotaped,” said Nick Lombardo, a PNNL project manager.

cameras, bought off shelves in the Tri-Cities, will be set up in the
main entrance, the hallway between sections S and W and at the
concession stand at section W.

It’s not the public’s faces that PNNL is interested in capturing. Rather, they’re trying to detect PNNL staffers in the crowd.

“Basically the crowd is background,” Kimura said.

PNNL staff members will be at the game to see how many times the
detection software can find them and match them with already-shot still
photos of them.

Half have been told to just do what they’d
normally do at the game. But others have been given instructions to walk
in a particular direction around the concourse at certain times or
stand in line at a concession stand.

All will wear monitoring
ankle bracelets that will signal when they are close enough to a monitor
to potentially allow their face to be recognized. 

That will help researchers know at what point on a video that detection technology could be able to find them.

will collect video to reflect different conditions that could test the
capabilities of detection technology. The cameras will be placed at
different heights to get high and low angles of faces and they will
collect video in areas with different lighting. It also wants to get
videos of crowds walking mostly in the same direction, such as at the
end of the game, and crowds in which people are walking in the corridor
in both directions, such as between periods.

In addition, a concession stand test is planned of people standing in straight lines and in a serpentine queue.

video will be used to see how many of the 20 PNNL faces the technology
can pick out of the crowd and also how many times the video picks out
the face of a random member of the public.

That means a hockey
fan’s face could be incorrectly identified as the person for whom the
video is searching. However, no names of people will be collected, said
Patty Wolfhope, program manager at the Department of Homeland Security.
And only “government researchers”
[emphasis added] not the technology developers, will see
the video.

The season opener between the Americans and Spokane
Chiefs could be the first of several tests
, including more at Toyota
Center games later in the season and possibly at another location.

may need to collect more videos showing different conditions, including
some with longer lines than might be found at Toyota Center games.

The Toyota Center agreed to be the site for the video, one of several projects it has helped PNNL with in recent years.

think it’s in our best interest to help facilitate the development of
the technology,” said Cory Pearson, executive director of VenuWorks,
which operates the center. “It’s in everybody’s best interest.”

video was collected at hockey games at the Toyota Center in 2008 for
Department of Homeland Security work to develop screening for
explosives, and improvements in explosive screening could improve
security at public places, such as sports complexes. The current work
could provide information that is valuable as facilities are designed to
best handle crowds, Pearson said.

The video that is collected at
the game and future events will provide a set database, allowing an
apples-to-apples comparison of the performance of different facial
recognition technologies, Lombardo said. The project may not only help
the Department of Homeland Security assess the readiness of technology
available, but also help it inform developers on where improvements
could be made.

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