Articles by Jacob Gannon
News reports and opinion columns about face recognition are appearing everyday. To some of us, the term sounds overly intrusive. It even makes people shrink back into their seats or shake their head in disgust, picturing a present-day dystopia. Yet to others, face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crime. What are the facts about face recognition? Which side is right? Well, there is no definitive answer because, as with all powerful tools, it all depends on who uses it. Face recognition can, in fact, be used in an immoral or controversial manner. But, it can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence. Concerns of facial recognition With the increased facial recognition applications, people’s concerns over the technology continuously appear throughout news channels and social media. Some of the concerns include: Privacy: Alex Perry of Mashable sums up his and most other peoples’ privacy concerns with face recognition technology when he wrote, “The first and most obvious reason why people are unhappy about facial recognition is that it's unpleasant by nature. Increasing government surveillance has been a hot-button issue for many, many years, and tech like Amazon's Rekognition software is only making the dystopian future feel even more real”. Accuracy: People are worried about the possibilities of inaccurate face detection, which could result in wrongful identification or criminalisation. Awareness: Face recognition software allows the user to upload a picture of anyone, regardless of whether that person knows of it. An article posted on The Conversation states, “There is a lack of detailed and specific information as to how facial recognition is actually used. This means that we are not given the opportunity to consent to the recording, analysing and storing of our images in databases. By denying us the opportunity to consent, we are denied choice and control over the use of our own images” Debunking concerns The concerns with privacy, accuracy, and awareness are all legitimate and valid concerns. However, let us look at the facts and examine the reasons why face recognition, like any other technology, can be responsibly used: Privacy concerns: Unlike the fictional dystopian future where every action, even in one’s own home, is monitored by a centralised authority, the reality is that face recognition technology only helps the security guard monitoring public locations where security cameras are installed. There is fundamentally no difference between a human security guard at the door and an AI-based software in terms of recognising people on watchlist and not recognising those who are not. The only difference is that the AI-based face recognition software can do so at a higher speed and without fatigue. Face recognition software only recognises faces that the user has put in the system, which is not every person on the planet, nor could it ever be. Accuracy concerns: It is true that first-generation face recognition systems have a large margin for error according to studies in 2014. However, as of 2020, the best face recognition systems are now around 99.8% accurate. New AI models are continuously being trained with larger, more relevant, more diverse and less biased datasets. The error margin found in face recognition software today is comparable to that of a person, and it will continue to decrease as we better understand the limitations, train increasingly better AI and deploy AI in more suitable settings. Awareness concerns: While not entirely comforting, the fact is that we are often being watched one way or another on a security camera. Informa showed that in 2014, 245 million cameras were active worldwide, this number jumped to 656 million in 2018 and is projected to nearly double in 2021. Security camera systems, like security guards, are local business and government’s precaution measures to minimise incidents such as shoplifting, car thefts, vandalism and violence. In other words, visitors to locations with security systems have tacitly agreed to the monitoring in exchange for using the service provided by those locations in safety, and visitors are indeed aware of the existence of security cameras. Face recognition software is only another layer of security, and anyone who is not a security threat is unlikely to be registered in the system without explicit consent. The benefits In August 2019, the NYPD used face recognition software to catch a rapist within 24 hours after the incident occurred. In April 2019, the Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department in China, found a 13-year-old girl using face recognition technology. The girl had gone missing in 2009, persuading many people that she would never be found again. Face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crimeIn the UK, the face recognition system helps Welsh police forces with the detection and prevention of crime. "For police it can help facilitate the identification process and it can reduce it to minutes and seconds," says Alexeis Garcia-Perez, a researcher on cybersecurity management at Coventry University. "They can identify someone in a short amount of time and in doing that they can minimise false arrests and other issues that the public will not see in a very positive way". In fact, nearly 60% Americans polled in 2019 accept the use of face recognition by law enforcement to enhance public safety. Forbes magazine states that “When people know they are being watched, they are less likely to commit crimes so the possibility of facial recognition technology being used could deter crime”. Saving time One thing that all AI functions have been proven to achieve better results than manual security is speed. NBC News writes, “Nearly instantaneously, the program gives a list of potential matches loaded with information that can help him confirm the identity of the people he’s stopped - and whether they have any outstanding warrants. Previously, he’d have to let the person go or bring them in to be fingerprinted”. Facial recognition can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence With AI, instead of spending hours or days to sift through terabytes of video data, the security staff can locate a suspect within seconds. This time-saving benefit is essential to the overall security of any institution, for in most security threat situations, time is of the utmost importance. Another way in which the technology saves time is its ability to enable employees (but not visitors) to open doors to their office in real time with no badge, alleviating the bottleneck of forgotten badge, keycode or password. Saving money A truly high-performance AI software helps save money in many ways. First, if the face recognition software works with your pre-existing camera system, there is no need to replace cameras, hence saving cost on infrastructure. Second, AI alleviates much of the required manual security monitoring 24/7, as the technology will detect people of interest and automatically and timely alert the authorities. Third, by enhancing access authentication, employees save time and can maximise productivity in more important processes. The takeaway AI-enabled face recognition technology has a lot of benefits if used correctly. Can it be abused? Yes, like all tools that mankind has made from antiquity. Should it be deployed? The evidence indicates that the many benefits of this complex feature outweigh the small chance for abuse of power. It is not only a step in the right direction for the security industry but also for the overall impact on daily lives. It helps to make the world a safer place.
On November 2019 in Stockton, California, surveillance footage found that vandals shot out glass windows and doors in many places in a small business complex (FOX40). The intruders broke in only to leave with nothing, proving their intent was solely to vandalize the property. Meanwhile, it was reported that a trio of ATM thieves struck around 9 times across many different locations inside Brooklyn and Queens within just over a month in fall 2019 (ATM Marketplace). On average, the cost of vandalism to SMB is around $3,370 per incident (US Small Business Administration), including a staggering 692 vehicle vandalism claims per day. Likewise, the average cost of theft to SMB is about $300 per shoplifting incident and $1,500 per employee theft incident, which accounts for 38% and 34.5% of all theft instances, respectively (National Retail Security Survey). High-performance artificial intelligent systems can automate the monitoring tasks Vandalism and theft have proven time and time again to be inconvenient and deconstructively harmful towards SMB. However, these financial burdens can be prevented with the use of the right security system. AI-based security systems with Deep Learning contain many features that many SMB owners find advantageous in their pursuit to stop unwarranted and unwanted money loss. Intrusion and loitering detection The first of many features that can help with vandalism and theft prevention is Intrusion Detection. High-performance artificial intelligent systems can automate the monitoring tasks for high-risk sites to provide a high level of security and security personnel monitoring efficiency. Traditional intrusion detection systems detect objects based on size and location, but they do not recognise the type of objects. Now, Intrusion Detection (Perimeter Protection) systems with cutting-edge, built-in AI algorithms to recognise a plethora of different object types, can distinguish objects of interest, thus significantly decreases the false-positive intrusion rate. The more advanced AI-based systems, like those we offered at IronYun, enable the users to draw ROIs based on break-in points, areas of high-valuables, and any other preference to where alerts may be beneficial. Similarly, AI Loitering Detection can be used to receive alerts on suspicious activity outside any given store. The loitering time and region of interest are customisable in particular systems, which allows for a range of detection options. Advanced loitering detection software as such can detect and trigger real-time alerts for both people loitering and/or vehicles that are illegally parked in certain areas of interest. A benefit, which only certain advanced systems contain, is the ability to send trigger actions to 3rd-party systems in reaction to receiving an alert of loitering and/or intrusion detection. These trigger actions can be set to contact authorities immediately and/or trigger a scare tactic alarm or announcement to intruder/loiterer. Certain Face Recognition and License Plate Recognition software can record individual people/vehicles Face and license plate recognition In addition to the activity detection solutions, certain Face Recognition and License Plate Recognition software can record individual people/vehicles and use pre-configured lists to identify particular faces or plates that may be of interest, such as those in watchlists. These systems can also enable the users to upload images of faces not in the lists and search for them in the camera recording. For instance, if a person is detected several times loitering outside a store, one may save one of the detection photos into the watchlist, and set up an alert when said face is recognised again outside the building in the future. The alerts will help to deter and prevent vandalism or theft, and notify the authorities to the scene before the troublemaker completes the act. The main attributes of high-performance Face Recognition systems which maximise assistance with vandalism and theft management include: Face match rate > 90% with good camera angles and lighting. Processing multiple streams and multiple faces per image. Live face extraction and matching to databases of thousands of faces within 3 seconds. State-of-the-art AI security software with Deep Learning allows the user to no longer need to install special LPR camerasIf the watchlist individual is wearing a mask or their face is not in view of the camera, their license plate may be a good indicator. If a particular car is detected several times loitering in the parking lot or street outside a store, the user can set the alerts for such car to get notified in the future. With an AI solution like this, common street cameras should be equipped with LPR capabilities. So, state-of-the-art AI security software with Deep Learning allows the user to no longer need to install special LPR cameras. High-performance alert mechanisms A high-performance AI solution, in addition to having high accuracy, should be able to: Easily integrate with 3rd-party systems Work well with all ONVIF IP cameras including infrared and thermal ones (for Intrusion detection) Analyses video streams in real time and trigger alerts within a few seconds Send alerts to multiple VMSs, connect with signalling devices such as loud speakers or flashing lights Send email notifications to security staff and police departments Send notification on mobile device using AI NVR mobile app Maintains a record of all alerts to provide evidence of intrusion and loitering instances for police and insurance agencies. To assist in theft and vandalism prevention, AI-based security systems with deep learning will do all of the tedious work for you. Their low cost and high performance also make them the most accessible security solutions in the market with large return on investment. Stopping crimes is a difficult, ongoing challenge, but with the right AI software, business vendors and police departments can do so with more ease.
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