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Bulgaria goes fully biometric in developing access control system for mass gatherings

Bulgaria is looking to ditch physical ticketing methods entirely, as it unrolls a new domestically developed biometric access control system designed for large public events. An article in Euractiv describes an effort by a government research team to develop an AI-powered biometric system to replace legacy access control methods used in public buildings and at mass events.

Under the planned system – confidently called “Rock” – fans who pre-register face or fingerprint biometrics will be able to access events without a ticket or wristband. Algorithmic scanners will also help to prevent unauthorized access, as only registered individuals will be permitted entry.

Rock is the largest of 14 Bulgarian projects related to AI under the country’s innovation and competitiveness initiative. The state-owned Fund of Funds is contributing EU money in the amount of €4.46 million (US$4.8 million) , out of a total cost of €7.38 million (US$7.9 million) for the whole project. The remainder is private investment. A technology partner is involved, but has not been made public as of yet.

Lofty goals for multimodal biometric and analytical capabilities

No one is likely to accuse Bulgaria of aiming low with its ambitions for the Rock project. Its facial recognition capabilities will be able to handle masked faces, but plans also involve the eventual implementation of behavioral biometrics.

Euractiv reports on project documentation that describes a “proactive approach” and states that “the goal is for the system to analyze facial expressions, body language and movement patterns to detect suspicious behavior or identify people in distress.” While it may seem counterintuitive, IT experts quoted in the article say the project will ensure compliance with GDPR and CCPA regulations, by implementing features such as data anonymization and encryption.

A statement from the Fund of Funds expresses a desire to explore applications of image recognition across “a variety of industrial applications, from sports and medical diagnostics to autonomous robotics and recognition of the psychological state.” It is part of the larger effort to position the EU and its member states as tech hubs that can keep pace with global giants such as the U.S. and China. Bulgaria is part of this, with the 2022 opening of the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT) in Sofia, presented as the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. It also recently launched BgGPT, an AI chatbot for the Bulgarian language.

Article: Bulgaria goes fully biometric in developing access control system for mass gatherings

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