Last Saturday, over 20 million viewers tuned in from across the UK to watch the coronation of King Charles III. to follow, making it the most-watched televised event of the year across the country. Another two million or so took to the streets of London under the close watch of AI.
Ahead of the coronation, the Metropolitan Police confirmed they would be using live facial recognition technology – scans faces and matches them to a list of people wanted for alleged crimes – across central London to identify potentially dangerous individuals blending into the crowd.
During the event, the software scanned footage from nearly 1 million CCTV cameras in central London and analyzed it with an AI algorithm to identify faces that could match those on the Met’s watch list. The sheer scale of the deployment made it the largest public deployment of live facial recognition technology in British history.
Live facial recognition technology has been a controversial issue in the UK in recent years due to concerns about privacy, civil liberties and the technology’s potential for abuse.
One of the main problems is the lack of a clear legal regulation for its use. “Live facial recognition is not mentioned in any UK law, has never been discussed in Parliament and is one of the most privacy-invasive technologies ever used by the UK police force,” he said Madeleine Stone, Legal and Policy Officer at British Action Group Civil Rights Big Brother clock.
Critics argue that using live facial recognition could lead to false positives, misidentifying innocent people as suspects. There are also concerns that the technology could disproportionately affect certain groups, such as people of color or people with disabilities, because of its potential bias in the algorithms used to analyze the images.
British police last month resumed the use of live facial recognition. Credit: HM Government
As a result of these concerns, a moratorium on the use of live facial recognition technology has been called for until clear legal guidelines and ethical standards can be established. While some European countries have restricted its use by private companies, they are they hesitate extend these restrictions to government and law enforcement agencies.
Last month, UK police subsequently resumed the use of live facial recognition technology Research showing a “significant improvement” in their accuracy. A report from the national Physical Laboratory found that the probability of a false match was 1 in 6000. This is still far too imprecise, activists say.
While tensions surrounding live facial recognition were on full display during the coronation, there was another emerging technology that was setting records: 5G.
5G is the latest wireless technology that offers faster and more reliable connectivity than its 4G predecessor and has the potential to revolutionize the way we use the internet, especially for data-intensive applications such as self-driving cars, gaming and live media streaming .
While there have been significant concerns (and misinformation) about 5G – from believing it causes radiation to more outlandish ones Expectations that it could spread the coronavirus — unlike live facial recognition, most experts agree it does little harm.
“World’s largest temporary private 5G network”
Of the more than 20 million viewers who watched the royal action on Saturday, the majority followed the coverage on the BBC, which broadcast the event live.
In recent years, news crews have relied on mobile networks to capture footage from hard-to-reach locations that cannot be accessed with satellite vans or cables. This approach can cause problems at large events, as networks become overloaded with social media users uploading content and journalists competing to send their images back to news outlets.
To ensure a reliable connection for live broadcasts, BBC R&D, the British news outlet’s technical research arm, has deployed the world’s largest temporary private 5G network at The Mall – the 1km long Great Red Road leading from Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace where hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the King’s procession.
Denmark’s TV2 News goes live outside Buckingham Palace powered by the world’s first temporary private 5G network. Credit: BBC R&D
Streaming large amounts of professional video requires high uplink capacity, which public networks are not designed for. To handle the traffic, the BBC set up a separate, private network using UK communications regulator Ofcom’s shared access spectrum, which secured 80MHz of radio capacity centered on 3855MHz. Mobile bonding devices like LiveU’s LU300 with 5G modems and dedicated SIMS moved video traffic off the public networks and into the private network.
In plain language, this means that 60 devices could stream video at high data rates from any point along the mall without impacting the speed of public cellular networks.
“The beauty of this system is that the workflow for operators and broadcasters is pretty much the same as they use every day, but we can be confident that no matter how busy the public network is, their units will work,” said BBC R&D in A blog post.
Unlike live facial recognition, the future of 5G is safer with half of all cellular subscriptions predicted be connected to 5G networks in just four years.