The use of facial recognition has become a highly debated topic recently, and has increasingly and misleadingly been criticised by some for being an unethical tool used to spy on the public. The reason for such criticism is however largely due to lack of information and regulation around the technology.

Used proportionately and responsibly, facial recognition can and should be a force for good. It has the ability to do a lot more to increase security in the future – from street crime to airport security, all the way through to helping those battling addiction, the technology can take security and operations to new heights.

The rise in knife crime

Knife crime has dominated the headlines in the UK throughout the year. Recent statistics show the number of people being admitted to emergency care due to attacks by a sharp object to be up by nearly 40 per cent from two years ago, whilst the number of children under the age of 18 being admitted to hospitals with stab wounds is up by 86 per cent in only four years.

This recent surge in knife crime has put police forces under immense pressure, and the intelligent use of facial recognition has a role to play in enabling more informed stop & search interventions.

Currently UK police can stop and search an individual they suspect to be carrying drugs or weapons or both, or they can stop and search a person in a location where there have been or are considered likely to be “incidents involving serious violence.” In both cases they must do so with access to limited information, leaving themselves open to accusations of bias or discrimination.

Currently UK police can stop and search an individual they suspect to be carrying drugs or weapons or both, or they can stop and search a person in a location where there have been or are considered likely to be “incidents involving serious violence.”
Knife crime dominated the headlines in the UK throughout 2018

Police systems benefiting crime investigations

This is where facial recognition can offer up additional intelligence. These systems can memorise the faces of persons of interest, networks of gang members, wanted criminals and those suspected of involvement in serious violent crimes. Furthermore, these systems don’t need prior personal engagement to recognise an individual and see only data, not gender, age or race. 

The technology doesn’t take the decision away from the human police officer. However, it does bring greater transparency and context to the decision-making process of whether a stop and search intervention is justified. 

Similarly, the advanced technology can recognise and match an individual seen on a CCTV camera at a crime scene to someone the police encounters on the streets some time later, justifying a stop and search on that individual.

Its ability to check in real time if a person is on a criminal watchlist adds an extra layer to the decision-making process prior to conducting a stop and search, lowering the likelihood of discrimination. Facial recognition thus helps eliminate both weapons and criminals off the streets and potentially prevent crimes before they have a chance to take place.

Gambling addiction and how facial recognition can help

There are an estimated 593,000 people in the UK currently battling a gambling problem, making it a serious public health issue in the country. Having understood the gravity of the issue, the UK gambling commission have set limits and advice in place to help those suffering this addiction; yet as with all addictions, gambling is a tough habit to beat. In order to put effective limitations in place and make a real difference, the gambling commission needs the right technology to protect those most vulnerable in the industry.  

 It would also be able to ensure effective self-exclusion procedures, by identifying a self-excluded individual via CCTV as soon as they entered the venue to then allow security staff to respectfully escort them out
Facial recognition technology is able to keep track of customers and thus help gambling companies in protecting their customers
 

Facial recognition technology is able to keep track of customers and thus help gambling companies in protecting their customers to a higher degree. Monitoring those entering and moving around gambling areas is an extremely difficult task for human staff to do alone, especially in large crowded areas such as casinos.

Facial recognition technology installed around the premises would be able to help the company and the staff to identify people who have registered as gambling addicts, and keep record of their day’s play in order to inform staff if and when it was time for them to stop. It would also be able to ensure effective self-exclusion procedures, by identifying a self-excluded individual via CCTV as soon as they entered the venue to then allow security staff to respectfully escort them out.

Utilising facial recognition at airport security

Facial recognition has by now become a normal sight at many airports around the world. Several people today hold a so-called biometric passport, which allows them to skip the normally longer queues and instead walk through an automated ePassport control to proceed to the gate faster without having to deal with control officers. Facial recognition used in this way has managed to significantly cut waiting times at the passport control, but it also has the ability to enhance security in and around airports. Facial recognition uses algorithms to match physical characteristics against photos and videos of people's faces

Earlier this year, facial recognition technology managed to catch an imposter trying to enter the US at the Washington Dulles Airport. The false passport may have been uncaught by the human eye, yet due to the accuracy of the facial recognition technology it managed to help officers catch the imposter and bring him to justice.

Facial recognition thus allows officers to identify an individual faster and more accurately than the human eye. Facial recognition uses algorithms to match physical characteristics against photos and videos of people's faces, which have been collected from visas, passports and other sources.

 facial recognition can help safeguard the public and improve national security on several fronts
Facial recognition allows officers to identify an individual faster and more accurately than the human eye

Whilst some critics may worry about issues of privacy related to the technology, at airports the use of facial recognition has proved to both enhance security as well as speed up processes such as check-in and, in the future, even boarding proceedings.

At airports the use of facial recognition has proved to both enhance security as well as speed up processes such as check-in

If used correctly and proportionately, facial recognition can help safeguard the public and improve national security on several fronts. Whilst the many benefits of facial recognition are evident, the lack of regulation and understanding of the technology has led to misconception around how it works and what it is used for.

Facial recognition technology can match faces in crowded public places against criminal watch lists, and register faces that match with those on criminal watch lists – whilst ignoring everyone else.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Richard Revis Director, Group Product Management, Digital Barriers

Richard Revis is the Director of Group Product Management at Digital Barriers. He’s involved in every part of the business, but specialises in live video streaming from body worn cameras. He has an incredibly wide skill set ranging from engineering to commercial and financial areas and has worked at a number of large organisations ranging from PwC to BAE Systems. He has a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering from Loughborough University.

In case you missed it

What are the security challenges of protecting SMBs?
What are the security challenges of protecting SMBs?

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) make huge contributions to the economy overall. Considered individually, they may not be as large as companies in the enterprise market, but they have big requirements when it comes to security. SMBs also present unique challenges to security manufacturers and integrators seeking to serve their needs. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)?

Expert roundup: healthy buildings, blockchain, AI, skilled workers, and more
Expert roundup: healthy buildings, blockchain, AI, skilled workers, and more

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.

Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?
Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organisations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organisations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.