Japan's police eye AI to control crowds at Tokyo Games

Japan's police eye AI to control crowds at Tokyo Games

The Japan News Published 8:27 am CDT, Monday, July 30, 2018

TOKYO - An experiment using an artificial intelligence system to estimate the number of spectators and their movements was conducted during the annual Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo by the Metropolitan Police Department and Panasonic.

The MPD and the major electronics maker will analyze the data collected on Sunday at the festival's venues, and examine whether the system could be utilized at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

MPD vehicles equipped with Panasonic cameras were stationed at two major crossings near the venues, and monitors nearby counted the number of people in designated areas and made estimations about which direction they would take.

The MPD and Panasonic will continue operating the system at major events and other occasions to equip the AI with more data. They are hoping to utilize the system for crowd control at the Tokyo Games.

They are also considering using it to prevent terrorism at the Games, by detecting suspicious individuals moving differently from other people and suspicious objects left abandoned.

"There are many venues at the Tokyo Olympics, so efficient security management is a task we need to deal with," said a senior MPD official. "We want to proactively utilize the latest technologies by joining hands with the private sector."

Better late than never

Fireworks lit up the Tokyo sky on Sunday night during the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, which was held at two venues in the capital's Taito and Sumida wards.

The annual event, which marked its 41st year, attracted about 874,000 people according to the organizer. A light summer breeze kept spectators cool as they watched the roughly 20,000 fireworks fill the night sky.

The event was originally scheduled for the previous day but was postponed to Sunday due to Typhoon No. 12, which passed off Tokyo on Saturday.


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