Moscow will become another big city to deploy real-time facial recognition on its streets, Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported, with Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announcing that the technology had been deployed “on a large scale” in early January. After the upgrade, Moscow’s Skyeye system will be easier to search and more accurate than in London.
Moscow only started setting up a camera surveillance system in 2017, using technology from Russian company NtechLab to scan video from a network of 160,000 CCTV cameras in the Russian capital, compared with London, which has long been widely used for camera surveillance systems. The company is known for its FindFace software, which was launched in 2016 and allows users to match anyone in the picture to their profile on VK (Russian version of Facebook). They capture 1.5 billion hours of video each year and can be used by 16,000 government employees, intelligence officials and law enforcement officials.
Moscow had earlier piloted facial monitoring technology at the site of a major public event and 269 metro stations, which resulted in the successful arrest of 10 wanted persons within a month, which led to the decision to fully introduce the technology.
In addition to face recognition technology, Russia has used several other monitoring tools in recent years, including mandatory recording of all mobile phone calls, geolocation of mobile SIM cards across the country, and the creation of “digital files” for each adult.
The size of the deployment is not yet known. There is no official data on how many cameras the technology has connected to, but NtechLab CHIEF Executive Alex Minin told The Verge by email that the deployment was one of the largest ever.
According to the latest UN survey, Moscow ranks first among the 40 metropolises in terms of digital service efficiency, while London, Shanghai and New York rank fourth, 11th and 14th, respectively.