Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York has been using facial recognition technology as part of an effort to enhance security, a number of sources have revealed.

Citing unnamed insiders familiar with security at the site, The New York Times newspaper said that the method has been used at a number of major events at MSG in order to help identify people who may be of risk to other visitors.

Facial recognition technology works by capturing images of people as they enter the venue, before an algorithm compares these photographs with a database of pictures to see if a person is considered a problem or threat.

Although a spokeswoman for MSG declined to answer questions from the Times about the use of such technology at the venue, MSG did release a statement in which it confirmed it is trialling various methods in a bid to boost security.

“MSG continues to test and explore the use of new technologies to ensure we’re employing the most effective security procedures to provide a safe and wonderful experience for our guests,” the statement said.

The Times said that its group of sources, who were granted anonymity as they were not authorised to speak publicly about the subject, are unsure as to how long how long the technology has been used, at which events it was running or how the collected data has been handled.

MSG is not the only venue in North America to have utilised facial recognition technology, with a number of teams in basketball’s NBA, including both the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks, already using such methodology to protect sensitive areas of their own arenas such as the team locker rooms.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass backed the use of technology as the league seeks to protect its players, officials and fans.

Bass said: “Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of the fans, players, team and arena staff at our games.

“The league and our teams are exploring the use of all state-of-the-art technology, including facial recognition, to ensure that we have industry-best security measures to protect all those in our arenas.”

Image: Emmanuel Milou