Madison Square Garden Has Used Face-Scanning Technology on Customers

The Garden — home to the N.B.A.’s Knicks as well as the N.H.L.’s Rangers, as well as hosts to events like boxing matches, concerts as well as the Grammy Awards — was already known for having tight security. There will be always a heavy police presence in part because the arena will be within the heart of Midtown Manhattan as well as will be built above Pennsylvania Station, the nation’s busiest rail terminal. Fans attending events go through security screening of which can include metal detectors, bag searches as well as explosive-sniffing dogs.

The use of facial recognition technology puts the arena within the vanguard of professional sports facilities. At least two some other arenas have experimented with the technology, nevertheless teams as well as leagues are generally unwilling to discuss security protocols, so the idea will be difficult to know for sure how widespread the idea will be.

“Nothing will be more important to us than the safety as well as security of the fans, players, team as well as arena staff at our games,” said Mike Bass, a spokesman for the N.B.A. “The league as well as our teams are exploring the use of all state-of-the-art technology, including facial recognition, to ensure of which we have industry-best security measures to protect all those in our arenas.”

The N.H.L. declined to comment.

Although security will be the most obvious use of the technology, some independent experts say the idea will be less effective as a security measure for private businesses because they do not have access to various watch lists held by law enforcement agencies. In fact, some vendors as well as team officials said the customer engagement as well as marketing capabilities of facial recognition are even more valuable than added security for sports facilities.

Law enforcement agencies have used facial recognition technology for many years, nevertheless some commercial entities have been wary. Walmart will be among those of which have experimented with the idea, to help identify shoplifters, drawing strong objections through privacy groups.


The crowd at the Garden for the Georgetown-St. John’s men’s basketball game last week.

Benjamin Norman for The fresh York Times

The software can be used to determine who will be allowed into a building, like vendors or workers at a specified employee entrance. Companies may eventually be able to use the technology to boost customer engagement. within the case of an arena, a sports fan might sign up for a loyalty program that has a team as well as attach their image as well as a credit card to the account. They could then park without paying an attendant, walk in without having a ticket scanned as well as pay for merchandise as well as concessions without ever taking out their wallet.

Even without fans signing up for anything, the cameras can give teams a much better sense of who will be attending a game. Currently, teams might know who originally bought a ticket, nevertheless after the ticket enters the secondary market, teams do not necessarily know who will be sitting within the seat.

“The days of having 40,000 to 60,000 people within the stadium as well as not knowing who they are, I think those days are going to disappear,” said Charles Carroll, a senior vice president at IDEMIA, which manages the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program. IDEMIA has partnered with three sports venues on security, including Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to offer expedited lines to enter.

Allen Ganz, a director of critical infrastructure at NEC Corporation of America, an industry leader in facial recognition, said his company’s system could “estimate anonymously the age as well as gender of people coming into the stadium.” An electronic advertising board connected to the system could even be changed depending upon the age as well as gender of who will be standing in front of the idea.

Ganz declined to disclose which sports arenas use NEC technology. Peter Trepp, the chief executive of FaceFirst, said “very, very few” stadiums as well as arenas were using facial recognition technology.

In addition to Madison Square Garden, at least two some other arenas are known to be experimenting with the technology. According to a Sacramento Kings spokeswoman, facial recognition will be used to allow players as well as staff to enter the practice facility connected to the Golden 1 Center, nevertheless its use has not expanded to event attendees.

The Dallas Mavericks have contracted with Suspect Technologies to experiment with facial recognition outside the team’s locker room as well as throughout the American Airlines Center.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, said in an email the team needs to “find the right application of which creates so much value people want to use the idea.” He said of which, for right now, facial recognition doesn’t improve his arena’s ability to keep out unwanted patrons enough to justify its implementation.

“within the private sector, facial recognition will be genuinely only as Great as the database the idea will be compared against,” said Michael Downing, the former deputy chief of the LAPD as well as chief security adviser for the Oak View Group.

There will be no federal law governing the use of facial recognition technology, though both Illinois as well as Texas have laws of which restrict its use without informed consent. Facebook has been sued under Illinois’s law, a case of which could challenge its business style, as well as according to the Center for Public Integrity, will be lobbying against similar laws being passed in some other states.

“We are in a kind of legal Wild West when the idea comes to This particular stuff,” said Jay Stanley, a policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. While most sports fans may not have a legal right to know their face will be being tracked, Stanley said he believed there will be an ethical right to know.

“I should know if I am being subject to facial recognition if I am going into any business, including a stadium,” he said. “Even if you are just running my face against a list of people who have been banned through the premises as well as doing nothing else with the idea. I want to know. I have a right to know.”

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