Artificial intelligence in the 2022 World Cup to check crowds and control the climate | Qatar 2022 World Cup news

Doha, Qatar – A room in the Qatari capital, Doha, has hundreds of screens showing fans attending the 2022 World Cup matches.

With more than 1.2 million fans expected in the country to host the World Cup, Qatar has set up a tech hub that uses artificial intelligence to monitor spectators, predict crowd swells, and even control the temperature of the stadium.

More than 100 technicians will be working around the clock at the Aspire Command and Control Center, closely monitoring the images flashing across their screens across the 200,000 integrated units, from the 22,000 security cameras deployed across all eight World Cup stadiums.

From here they can operate the entrance gates, ensure there is running water and keep the air conditioners humming smoothly.

Facial recognition technology will enable the crew to enlarge each of the 80,000 seats at Lusail Stadium, which is scheduled to host 10 matches, including the final.

Experts from cybersecurity to counterterrorism to transportation will be stationed at the center, along with Qatari and FIFA officials.

Security cameras in all areas of the stadiums will ensure that the mission controller can check how each venue is operating before, during and after the event.

With one click you can move from stadium to stadium [another] The stadium, because we have everything integrated through our central platform, in terms of facilities management, security, health and safety, ICT [information and communications technology] said Hamad Ahmed Al Mohannadi, director of the center.

This is the future of how the sport is covered, say the technicians, some of whom have worked behind the scenes since the 2006 Asian Games hosted by Qatar. They just have so many tools at their disposal now.

Organizers say the “connected stadium” concept is the first of its kind to be used during the World Cup. AI will enable technicians to anticipate increased crowds and quickly deal with congestion by sharing information with security officials.

The aim is to avoid incidents such as the chaos that broke out in May outside the Stade de France in Paris, when police used tear gas and pepper spray on fans trying to reach the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

In October, more than 130 people died in a crowd at a soccer stadium in Indonesia after police fired tear gas at fans who streamed onto the pitch, followed by people running to blocked exits as they tried to get out of the stadium.

Qatar Center’s technical team says that aggregating the data allows them to predict crowd patterns. Since they know the exact number of people to expect based on ticket sales, they can expect crowds to increase. It can depend on the time of arrival, the entry points or even the movement of people at any time.

“We have the crowd control team and security personnel on the ground, we have law enforcement agencies and we supplement their decision-making with data. Nias Abdul Rahiman, head of technology at the center, told Al Jazeera.

With the help of artificial intelligence, the center can count the number of people within a space and apply a threshold. Abdul-Raheem explained that if there are more than 100 people in a certain area, for example, technicians can see bottlenecks, check the performance of entry gates and ensure a smooth flow of people in and out of the stadium.

All stadiums are air-conditioned. If there is a temperature difference inside the places, sensors from the command center can capture the data and prompt an adjustment.

“Through this command center, our central platform gives us an opportunity for rapid response, and more performance in operations with fewer people,” Al Mohannadi told Al Jazeera.

Cyber ​​security threats do not deter the manager. He said the systems are designed to withstand vulnerabilities.

“Obviously all of this relies on secured cybersecurity so that all of your systems are able to withstand any threats from outside or inside. We make sure the systems are secure. We are doing this as a routine now to make sure that there is no major cybersecurity incident during the World Cup. FIFA”.

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