The young man who is just coming up the stairs from the B-level suspects nothing.

Not even the mother, who quietly pushes the pram in front of her on this Tuesday morning, once across the main station.

If one of them were to become a victim of tricksters or pickpockets at that moment, the police would now have a good chance of catching the perpetrator.

Because the main station has been under video surveillance since Tuesday - for the first time with a new camera technology that has never been seen in public places in Frankfurt.

She can zoom in very close to the people.

Four systems are distributed around the main guard.

If they are connected together, a panorama picture results.

The entire square can be seen - but above all what is happening there.

Katharina Iskandar

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The police had been working on this system for a long time - since 2015. Originally, only the old video systems at the Kaisersack and the Konstablerwache were to be replaced.

Then the police made it clear that, if the technology is already being upgraded, the hot spots on Taunusstrasse in the Bahnhofsviertel and Allerheiligenviertel should also be added in order to be able to fight crime there in a more targeted manner.

Finally, the Hauptwache location was added after the terrorist attack in Paris.

The system is now a showcase project there.

Monitoring also for the feeling of security

Police President Gerhard Bereswill emphasized on Tuesday how important it is to have a better view of this central location in the city center. The Hauptwache is not only Frankfurt's second-largest traffic junction after the main train station with several levels underground, but also the busiest shopping street, the Zeil, begins there. Bereswill put it this way: "This entire section of Hauptwache and Zeil is a location that offers an incentive for certain people to not behave in accordance with the law."

In numbers this means: around 600 crimes are registered there every year. 400 of them are theft offenses. But bodily harm, robbery and other acts of violence also occur there. In addition, the main guard is still one of the possible targets of terrorists. “Attack risks”, says Bereswill, “are not a thing of the past. Germany continues to be a highly endangered country in abstract terms. ”But also in other incidents that occurred at the main station, from accidents to fires,“ the cameras help to control the missions better and more specifically ”. The images that will in future be sent directly to the police headquarters via the five permanently installed systems “do not go nowhere”, says Bereswill. Seven additional officers were specially assigned toto view and evaluate the images live in shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The police can react accordingly quickly. "Last but not least, video surveillance should also improve the citizens' sense of security."

No automatic face recognition

The city of Frankfurt provided and largely financed the facility.

Security department head Markus Frank (CDU), who signed the contract for the facility together with Bereswill on Tuesday, pleaded for the police to continue "to equip the police with everything that is needed in terms of technical equipment" in the future.

He said, "What the security forces are doing is extraordinary."

The concept that the Frankfurt police intend to use in connection with the new cameras is particularly special. For the first time, “Super Recognizers” are also being used - officers who have the ability to recognize previously imprinted faces in a large crowd. The police are hoping that this will result in some success in searches. Surveillance cameras are already one of the most important technical aids. According to Bereswill, the evaluation enables 350 to 400 suspects to be identified every year in Frankfurt. If the camera system at the main station is added, the police hope that the number could be increased again. The Frankfurt police are currently not using automatic facial recognition. "But we will certainly continue to monitor the technical development",says Bereswill.

However, the officers cannot see every section at the main guard - because data protection applies to apartments, business entrances or in visible streets, for example. According to Bereswill, it was “a matter of course to involve the Hessian data protection officer from the start”. The image material may only be kept for 14 days, after which it will be deleted. Meetings that were regularly held at the main guard were a sensitive issue. The police will not use the cameras during demonstrations either, said Bereswill. Blinds are installed on the devices, which are then lowered. "Then it is also visible to everyone."

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