PNNL researchers to conduct facial recognition research at Toyota Center

<p>Toyota Center</p>

Toyota Center

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland are getting ready to conduct some unique research Saturday night at the Tri-City Americans season-opening hockey game at the Toyota Center.

Workers say ultimately, this research will help the Department of Homeland Security improve facial recognition technology, which will in turn make America a safer place to live.

Roderick Jackson has lived in Kennewick all his life, and says safety is always on the top of his mind.

"With what's going on in the world today, it's always nice to know that everything is being watched and secure" said Jackson.

Tomorrow night, researchers at PNNL and Americans hockey fans will team up, some without even knowing it, to improve national security.

Researchers will be installing 11 cameras inside the Toyota Center to help the Department of Homeland Security improve facial recognition research.

"This technology is part of a bigger scheme to make the border of our country safer and more secure" said Marcia Kimura, PNNL researcher.

Video cameras will be posted at three different locations throughout the concourse, recording people's movements.

Meanwhile, several PNNL employees will attend the game, wearing ankle bracelets that track their movements.

As they enter the areas with the video cameras, their ankle bracelets will record where they are - just like a tracking device for a marathon runner.

But the big test is to see whether or not the Department of Homeland Security's facial recognition program can also catch those employees each time they go through an area with the video cameras.

"This technology is really geared to, they want to use our crowd, in a natural reacting crowd, to have some of their staff intermingle with and then try to be able to pick them out" said Corey Pearson, Three Rivers Campus Executive Director.

PNNL and the Toyota Center have been teaming up for the past six years to conduct research like to this - the facial recognition aspect just being the latest project.

"Some of the things that have been worked on at this facility in Kennewick is just mind-blowing on what it could do to the rest of our world to make it a safer place" said Pearson.

And for many residents, that's peace of mind they can't find anywhere else.

"I think it's very neat, especially for the children" said Jackson.

Researchers at PNNL will not review the video footage, they'll just record it and send it to the Department of Homeland Security for review.

Right now, this research is only expected to take place at tomorrow's game, but it could happen at other events if needed.

If you are planning to attend Saturday's hockey game and don't want to be on camera, you will be able to avoid the areas, as there will be signs posted for alternate paths.