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For retailers, facial recognition is used
to identify known thieves and those who
have previously been involved in anti-social
behaviour in a store. In
healthcare, facial recognition is being
used to monitor patients’ pain levels and
can detect some genetic diseases which
affect facial gestures. In marketing, facial
recognition is being deployed to help
target customers with relevant
advertising and service messages
depending on their age and gender.
Recently, a combination of heat
detection and facial recognition has
been helping to identify those who may
be ill with the Coronavirus and spots if
they’re wearing a facemask. Under trial
and truly relevant in the current
pandemic is touchless payment using
facial recognition in fast food outlets
and at other retailers such as forecourts
and convenience stores. Also, let’s not
forget that more and more users are
unlocking their phones with their face.
In the last year, privacy and civil rights
concerns have escalated in the US. San
Francisco, Somerville City Council,
Oakland in California, Portland, Boston
and San Diego have all banned the use
of facial recognition. In California, the
use of body cameras by law enforcement
has also been outlawed. For its part,
New York State has implemented a new
robust cyber security programme to
protect state residents.
The use of facial recognition around
the world is also advancing quickly with
Russia, China, Brazil, India, Korea and
some African countries all now
involved. In Moscow, one of the world’s
largest networks of no less than 160,00
surveillance cameras has been installed
for the purposes of public safety.
What’s clear is that facial recognition
is fast becoming an important and
powerful tool. Every country and many
of the US states have different views on
the control and management of its use,
though, and this is a major cause for
concern both for the industry trying to
establish usable solutions and for the US
Government, focused as it necessarily is
on privacy-centric issues.
As mentioned, Europe under the
GDPR is leading the way and the EU
Commission is planning to act on
indiscriminate use of the technology.
The first draft of the European
Commission’s White Paper on the
matter is now available to view. The
document mentions “a time-limited ban
on the use of facial recognition by
private or public actors in public spaces”.
Legislation, then, is now crucial to
enable the benefits of facial recognition
to be delivered in the real world.
There has been some success using
facial recognition for owners of shops,
restaurants and bars in the UK. Using
the GDPR rules as a guiding principle,
facial recognition is providing a
deterrent to habitual thieves and
reducing anti-social behaviour in stores.
With a standard HD camera set up on
an entrance doorway, known ‘Subjects of
Interest’ can be identified and an alert
sent to a manager’s mobile device in
milliseconds. The system affords store
staff peace of mind and time to decide
on the best action to take.
In large Shopping Centres across the
UK, this system becomes an important
tool to support security officers,
enabling ‘Subjects of Interest’ to be
removed from the premises before an
offence is committed and, ultimately,
ensuring the public can shop in peace.
These systems are designed to delete
images not matched on the database on
an immediate basis. They also ensure
that the database of images is managed
correctly and by a third party
organisation registered with the
Information Commissioner’s Office.
Thus, there’s a high degree of privacy
involved for individuals.
Public view changing
Facial recognition used in combination
with other biometric technology could
make the world a safer place. Of all the
biometric data, from fingerprints
through to iris scans, your face is,
perhaps, the most secure way in which
to ensure your identity isn’t stolen and
that you’re positively recognised on a
swift footing with 100% accuracy.
The Coronavirus pandemic has most
certainly become a catalyst for creativity
and invention, actively highlighting the
many issues that population pressure,
international travel and the overriding
human need for interaction can create in
terms of a perfect storm for viral
infections to spread. The security
industry has risen to the challenge with
a host of temperature scanning and
touchless systems designed to ensure
that Health and Safety is maintained.
Stuart Greenfield is a Technology
Consultant and Technical Advisor to
Facial recognition used in combination with
other biometric technology could make the
world a safer place