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Dubai Introduces Facial Recognition On Public Transport as it Prepares For Expo 2020 in April

Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.

“This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people,” said Obaid al-Hathboor, director of Dubai’s Transport Security Department.

The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.

Dubai, which sees itself as a leading “smart city” in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.

Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.

Security forces in Dubai carried out training exercises this week to thwart a mock attack, aided by new face recognition technology to help increase security

Expo 2020 was originally scheduled for October 20, 2020—April 10, 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its new dates are October 1, 2021— March 31, 2022


Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city’s police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.

A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped “evacuate” commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control center to apprehend the suspects.

Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.

Jamal Rashed, of Dubai Police’s Transport Security Department, said the facial recognition technology will be rolled out in the coming months in all metro stations.

Other technology already in use to combat the spread of the coronavirus, such as helmets with thermal cameras and smart glasses, will also be used to identify and manage large crowds.

“It took at least five hours to identify a suspect before,” said Rashed. “With this technology, it takes less than a minute.”

Barron’s/AFP

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