Madison Square Garden in New York has been implementing a facial recognition software for events at the famed venue, according to The New York Times. Multiple people familiar with the Garden’s security practices say the world-famous venue has been scanning and identifying the faces of fans who enter the building.
Though it is unclear when the Garden started utilizing the technology, sources told The Times that cameras have been capturing images of people entering the building, those images are then compared to a database of photographs using an algorithm to identify that person. As a security measure, the image comparisons can determine if the individual could pose a problem.
“MSG continues to test and explore the use of new technologies to ensure we’re employing the most effective security procedures to provide a safe and wonderful experience for our guests,” MSG said in a statement sent to Amplify.
Sources familiar with the Garden’s security measures said they were unsure how many times the venue used the security over the past few months nor how that data was handled. The deployment of the technology has now raised questions of the security of the data and how it is being stored.
Security measures already in place at The Garden include metal detectors, bag searches and explosive-sniffing dogs. As the home of NBA’s Knicks and NHL’s Rangers and as host of the 2018 Grammy Awards and other major events, The Garden also has a heavy police presence in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of the fans, players, team and arena staff at our games,” said Mike Bass, a spokesman for the NBA told The Times. “The league and our teams are exploring the use of all state-of-the-art technology, including facial recognition, to ensure that we have industry-best security measures to protect all those in our arenas.”
As a security measure, The Garden’s facial recognition technology is limited since it is not attached to law enforcement databases. The technologies marketing capabilities are far greater than its security benefits, according to some sources. For instance, the cameras can determine the gender and roughly gather the age of attendees and adjust the future advertisement to those in the building.
“In the private sector, facial recognition is really only as good as the database it is compared against,” Michael Downing, the former deputy chief of the LAPD and chief security adviser for the Oak View Group told The Times.
While some law enforcement agencies use facial recognition technology, Madison Square Garden is only the third known sports facility to use it. Sacramento’s Golden1 Center and home of the Sacramento Kings is said to use facial recognition to identify players and coaches allowed in its practice facility. American Airlines Center in Dallas, home of the Dallas Mavericks, have contracted with Suspect Technologies to experiment with facial recognition outside the team’s locker room and throughout the arena.