Greek officials say a new surveillance system will increase their security, but analysts raise the alarm over its privacy implications.
Head of information and communications technology at the Greek Migration and Asylum Ministry in Athens, Anastasios Salis, encouraged visitors from Aljazeera to see something nice through an airtight room. Before entering, there were two interlocking doors, accessible only with a fingerprint scan and an ID card. Beyond these doors, there is the ministry’s centralized surveillance room. A vast screen covers the front wall. More than a dozen yards display footage from refugee camps connected to the system. One screen shows a basketball court in a refugee camp, another shows the playground, and another is inside the containers where people socialize.
Suddenly, lights blink red, which signifies that the sensor detected a possible threat in one of the camps. It was Centaur, a high-tech security system the Greek Migration Ministry uses in all of the refugee camps in the country. This particular incident was a simulation displayed to Al Jazeera during a preview of the Centaur system.
Aim of the program
According to Greek officials, the program aims to ensure the safety of people inside the camps and in neighboring communities.
Centaur comes with motion sensors and cameras. It uses algorithms to predict and flag dangers such as unauthorized cars, guns, or unusual visits to restricted areas. The system alerts the proper authorities, including the police and fire brigade, private security in the camps.
From the control room, operators send drones with cameras and instruct officers to run to the location of the reported danger.
Officers have smartphones packed with software that authorizes them to speak with the control center.
Once they detect the severity of the danger, the control room guides them to fix the incident.
Video footage and other operation data go to an “incident card” in the system.