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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

AI Cameras on UK Trains Scan Passengers’ Emotions using Amazon Technology

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In Short:

Network Rail did not answer questions about the trials sent by WIRED. The AI usage, emotion detection, and privacy concerns were not addressed. Network Rail uses advanced technologies at stations for security and collaborates with police. AI systems are used to detect trespassing and other safety risks. However, privacy experts are concerned about the lack of transparency and debate surrounding the use of AI in public spaces.

Network Rail’s Use of AI Surveillance Raises Privacy Concerns

Network Rail did not provide specific details about the ongoing trials when contacted by WIRED, avoiding questions regarding the current status of AI usage, emotion detection, and privacy concerns.

Network Rail’s Response

“We take the security of the rail network very seriously and employ various advanced technologies at our stations to safeguard passengers, staff, and the infrastructure from potential threats,” stated a Network Rail spokesperson. “We work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure our actions are proportionate, and we always adhere to relevant legislation concerning surveillance technologies.”

Emotion Detection Technology

The deployment of emotion detection analysis by Network Rail remains ambiguous. Gregory Butler, CEO of Purple Transform, confirmed that this capability was discontinued during the tests, ensuring no images were stored during its operation.

Use Cases and Benefits

Documents from Network Rail outlined several potential use cases, including sending automated alerts to staff based on detected behaviors. These systems do not utilize face recognition technology aiming to match identities.

Operational Successes

At Leeds train station, one of the busiest outside London, 350 CCTV cameras linked to the SiYtE platform facilitate monitoring. The analytics help identify safety risks promptly by enhancing human operators’ capacity to address issues.

Furthermore, cameras at Reading station accelerated investigations into bike thefts, while new air quality sensors reduced manual checks for staff.

Privacy Concerns and Future Implications

Privacy experts express unease regarding the lack of transparency surrounding AI use in public spaces. The expansion of surveillance systems worldwide raises concerns about possible encroachments on personal freedoms.

Despite the benefits of certain technologies, there is a growing need to balance security measures with individual privacy rights in an ethical and transparent manner.

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