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Moscow now tracking every face through its 170,000 camera network with added facial recognition

A security camera looks down to survey the area. (Max Pixel/Released)
September 29, 2017

Residents in the city of Moscow are now officially being monitored by thousands of cameras that are using a facial recognition system.

The system had been in pilot form since earlier this year, and the facial recognition software is now officially being used.


“The issue is that it takes lots of hours to look through in the archive. That’s why we started the project pilot — it helps us organize the video,” said Artem Ermolaev, CIO of the city’s Department of Information Technologies, TechCrunch reported.

There are more than 170,000 camera’s in the city’s network, which keeps five full days of video footage archived at all times.

Aside from 24/7 surveillance, there are other uses for such a system: crime monitoring and searching for reported lost persons, such as children or elderly. The system could also be used to monitor city services such as garbage removal.

While this sounds in-depth, Ermolaev told TechCrunch: “It’s all hashcodes, not someone’s family name or something.”

The cameras are owned by the government, but not all of them – some are commercially owned, and “you could put one up outside your apartment and add it to the network if you wanted,” Ermolaev said, adding that access is “strictly controlled” and data is “kept secure in a government-run storage facility.”

“There are two main challenges now,” Ermolaev said, TechCrunch reported. “How can we use these analytics on all cameras? And we need to have the system understand not only humans, but objects.”