Toshima Ward in Tokyo has signed a deal with NEC Corporation to have its Comprehensive Disaster Control System installed in the municipal district. The system will incorporate an advanced behavioral biometrics system to help monitor and manage crowd control. The system is unique in the behavioral biometrics world in the sense that it isn’t actually meant to identify any individuals. Rather, its purpose is to scan video feeds for unusual patterns in group activity, alerting officials to dangerous or unexpected situations as they unfold. Toshima Ward is a notoriously busy area, with a subway station that sees about 2.5 million passengers traffic through every day, so ward managers could find significant benefits from NEC’s system.
The company says it’s a part of its “Social Solutions Business”, with a senior vice president, in a press release, commenting that the “new system in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward is an important part of NEC’s ongoing contributions to the realization of safe and secure cities.” The deal also reflects a global trend in the evolution of “smart cities”, which use advanced technology to improve governance and city management. Biometrics has a significant role to play in the smart city, but in this case NEC and Toshima Ward are avoiding the privacy and civil liberties issues that can come with such deployments by explicitly not identifying the individuals being monitored.