France Uncovers 20K Secret Swimming Pools, Makes Millions

Pool owners forced to pay taxes on the undeclared pools
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2022 3:11 AM CDT
Updated Sep 3, 2022 6:00 AM CDT
France Uncovers More Than 20K Secret Swimming Pools Using AI
Stock photo   (Getty Images / Preto_perola)

After using artificial intelligence to uncover more than 20,000 secret swimming pools, France collected nearly $10 million in taxes. The undeclared pools were discovered during a trial of software developed by Google and a French consulting firm that was run last year, the BBC reports. The trial resulted in aerial images of nine regions in France, where the pools were revealed, and authorities say the technology will soon be rolled out nationwide, the Guardian reports. Pools must be declared by law in France, and because they can increase property values, they can also increase property taxes to the tune of about $200 per year, on average.

Authorities say the tech could also be used to expose other undeclared home improvements such as gazebos, patios, verandas, or even expansions that would similarly bring in increased tax revenue, though they acknowledge they must be careful not to misidentify "the dog kennel or the children's playhouse" as such an expansion. So far, they say, the technology isn't quite there. During the swimming pool test, some solar panels were misidentified as pools. To confirm what the AI found, the aerial images were cross-checked with land registry databases. (France still bans "burkinis" at public pools.)

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