A vast and contentious network of facial recognition cameras keeping watch over Moscow is now playing a key role in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus in Russia.
NtechLab & FindFace
in the media
Moscow is the latest major city to introduce live facial recognition cameras to its streets, with Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announcing that the technology is operating «on a mass scale» earlier this month, according to a report from Russian business paper Vedomosti. Moscow started trialing live facial recognition in 2017, using technology from Russian firm NtechLab to scan footage from the Russian capital’s network of 160,000 CCTV cameras.
Built on several tens of thousands of cameras and what’s claimed to be one of the most advanced facial recognition systems on the planet, Moscow has been quietly switching on a massive surveillance project this month. The software that’s helping monitor all those faces is FindFace, the product of NtechLab, a company that some reports claimed would bring “an end to anonymity” with its FindFace app.
Rostelecom Group subsidiary Netris and NtechLab have agreed to a partnership to add face recognition to cameras deployed to Netris' smart city customers. NtechLab’s FindFace biometric algorithm is now up and running on 250 video streams from Tyumen city surveillance cameras.
Moscow already has more than 150,000 cameras monitoring its 12 million population. Now the authorities look to augment the monitoring systems with AI. These systems are aimed at identifying suspicious actions: someone very quickly waving his arms, running, grabbing an object that resembles a weapon. Moscow’s face recognition start-up Ntechlab is the frontrunner to deliver services to the mass surveillance programme that is underway.
NtechLab’s CEO Alex Minin discusses the possibilities of the implementation of recognition technologies in the cities of the future. “There is no way to abandon or avoid facial recognition. The police force is costly and does not bring added value, so ideally, the ration policemen/general population should be as low as possible. We pay for the police force, so let’s minimise it. If they have the right tools, this can be done” - he told Sputnik.
Major Russian airports are already testing face recognition algorithms, including the FindFace technology of NtechLab, while the large-scale system rollout may take up to eighteen months, NtechLab’s CEO Alex Minin told TASS.
Founded in 2015, Russian startup NtechLab has taken in $ 1.5 million in funding to develop a client-side facial recognition solution where no biometric data is transferred or stored by the company. Their service not only verifies or identifies faces, but recognizes age, gender, and emotions. The company’s algorithms received praise in Washington in 2017, winning the first-ever facial recognition competition devised by the R&D team run by the Director of National Intelligence. With 2,000 customers globally including the UK, US, and China, NtechLab’s technology is used in public safety, dating, security, banking, retail, entertainment, and events organization. We sat down to talk with NtechLab’s CEO, Alex Minin, to learn about how NtechLab is going head to head with Chinese computer vision startups that have taken in hundreds of millions in funding.