Facial recognition has a long history dating back to the 1800s. To track down criminals, such as infamous bandits Jesse Woodson James and Billy the Kid, law enforcement would place “Wanted Alive or Dead” posters advertising bounties and soliciting public cooperation to help locate and even apprehend the alleged criminals. In addition to the bounty, these posters would include a photo and brief description of the crime, which would then be circulated to law enforcement agencies around the country and displayed in every US Post Office to speed up apprehension.
Advancements in artificial intelligence and biometric technology have led to the widespread use of computerised facial recognition
Today, technology such as social media, television and other more specialised communication networks play a more influential role in the recognition process. Advancements in artificial intelligence and biometric technology, including the development of Machine Learning capabilities, have led to increased accuracy, accessibility and the widespread use of computerised facial recognition. The significance of this means that facial recognition can occur on an even larger scale and in more challenging environments.
This article will explore key milestones and technological advances that have resulted in the modern incarnation of facial recognition, before discussing the capabilities of cutting-edge “one-to-many” technology which is increasingly being used by counter-terror defence, police and security forces around the world.
Technology inception and developments
The technology was able to match 40 faces an hour, which was considered very impressive at the time
The 1960s marked the start of computerised facial recognition, when Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Bledsoe developed a way to classify faces using gridlines. Bledsoe’s facial recognition still required a large amount of human involvement because a person had to extract the co-ordinates of the face’s features from a photograph and enter this information into a computer. The technology was able to match 40 faces an hour (each face took approximately 90 seconds to be matched) which was considered very impressive at the time.
By the end of the 1960s, facial recognition had seen further development at the Stanford Research Institute where the technology proved to outperform humans in terms of accuracy of recognition (humans are notoriously bad at recognising people they don’t know). By the end of the century, the leading player in the field was a solution that came out of the University of Bochum in Germany – and the accuracy of this technology was such that it was even sold on to bank and airport customers.
From this stage on, the facial recognition market began to blossom, with error rates of automatic facial recognition systems decreasing by a factor of 272 from 1993 to 2010 according to US Government-sponsored evaluations.
The aim for facial technology is to achieve successful and accurate recognition on commonly available hardware like live CCTV feeds and standard computing hardware
Modern usage of facial recognition
Fast-forward to the modern day and facial recognition has become a familiar technology when using applications such as the iPhone X’s Face ID capability or MasterCard Identity Check, passport e-gates at airports and other security and access control points. These solutions implement a consensual form of identity verification, as the user has a vested interest in being identified.
This is a “one-to-one” facial recognition event, one person in front of the camera being compared to one identity either on a passport or the app. In these scenarios, the hardware is specifically developed for the application at hand, therefore technically much easier to accomplish.
Facial recognition can now be used in a variety of governmental and commercial environments The safety and security world brings a much more complex problem to solve – how to pick out a face in a moving and changing environment and compare it to several faces of interest. “One-to-many” facial recognition is a much harder problem to solve.
It’s even more challenging when the aim is to achieve successful and accurate recognition on commonly available hardware like live CCTV feeds and standard computing hardware. And unlike in the 1960’s where identifying a face every 90 seconds was acceptable; the safety and security market requires near instant feedback on who a person matched against a watchlist is.
Security and safety applications
The idea behind all facial recognition technologies is broadly the same: you start with an image of a person’s face (ideally a high quality one, although machine learning means that to a point we can now even use video without reducing accuracy). A fully front facing image is best, think a passport photo, but machine learning and new software has made this more flexible.
An algorithm converts this image into a numeric template, which cannot be converted back to an image and so represents a secure one way system. Every numeric template is different, even if it started out as an image of the same person, although templates from the same person are more similar than templates from different people.
The accuracy of facial recognition continues to increase alongside deployments in more challenging and complex environments What happens next sounds simple although the technology is extremely complex: templates of people’s faces are taken in real time and compared to those in the database. The technology identifies individuals by matching the numeric template of their face with all the templates saved in a database in a matter of seconds or milliseconds. To put this into perspective, imagine you are at the turnstiles of a busy train station looking for a person on the run.
Today’s facial recognition technology would be able to identify that person should they pass in view of a CCTV camera, as well as notify the police of any additional persons of interest, whether they are a known terrorist or missing vulnerable person on an entirely separate watch list.
Because of technical progression, facial recognition can now be used in a variety of governmental and commercial environments, from identifying barred hooligans attempting entry at a football stadium or helping self-excluded gamblers at casino to overcome addiction.
The latest evolution of facial recognition pits the technology against an even more challenging application – directly matching individuals from body worn cameras for real time recognition for police officers on the beat. This capability equips first responders with the ability to detect a person from a photo and verify their identity with assurance.
The broader implication for this means that every interaction, such as stop and search or arrest, can be supported by real-time facial recognition which will see cases of mistaken identity driven down on the streets. First responders can now for the first time be deployed and furnished with the ability to identify wider groups of people of interest with a degree of accuracy that previously relied only on the fallible human memory.
As the accuracy of the technology continues to increase alongside deployments in more challenging and complex environments, its ability to support government initiatives and law enforcement means the debate about the lawful and appropriate use of facial recognition must be addressed. Facial recognition should not be everywhere looking for everyone, but when used properly it has the potential to improve public safety and we should make the most of its potential.
At GSX 2018 on booth # 2951, Genetec Inc. (‘Genetec’), a technology provider of unified security, public safety, operations, and business intelligence solutions, will demonstrate how true unification enables organisations to deploy a single platform that enhances situational awareness, streamlines and simplifies the operator experience, and reduces total cost of ownership.
Specifically, Genetec will showcase the latest version of Security Center -- the company’s unified platform that merges IP security systems within a single platform -- as well as Mission Control, a collaborative decision management software, and Clearance, a digital evidence management system.
With Security Center 5.7, users can augment their cyber resilience with cybersecurity features, and benefit from new enterprise functionalities for their access control system
Automating security with embedded analytics
Visitors to the Genetec booth will be able to see the latest version of Security Center which lets users further automate their security and privacy protection through several embedded analytics and privacy modules. Visual reports that include dynamic charts and graphs deliver new insights and simplify the day-to-day activities of security professionals. They not only better understand their data but can also respond more effectively.
With Security Center 5.7, users can augment their cyber resilience with cybersecurity features, and benefit from new enterprise functionalities for their access control system. Genetec will also introduce additional Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management Architecture (FICAM) approved solutions for US Federal entities through close collaboration with technology partners like Mercury Security and HID Global.
Enhanced situational awareness and operational efficiency
“Unified is a word that often gets misused or misinterpreted within the security industry. Typically, when vendors talk about unification, they refer to the clunky integration of independent products or the simple exchange of data between two or more security applications. These approaches don’t fully grasp the essence a unified platform, and end users unfortunately don’t realize the full benefits of a comprehensive security strategy.
Mission Control enables organisations to manage the entire lifecycle of incidents and situations, from monitoring incoming sensor data and detecting incidents, to resolution and auditing
“Genetec Security Center allows you to monitor video and access, track vehicles through ALPR, communicate with SIP-based devices, and act using one platform, through a single interface. It delivers enhanced situational awareness, improved operational efficiency, and increased productivity by showing you the bigger picture,” says Jimmy Palatsoukas, Director of Product Marketing at Genetec.
Monitoring sensor data and detecting incidents
At GSX, Genetec will showcase solutions that allow customers to collaborate across functions including security, operations and maintenance. Designed to work seamlessly with Security Center, Mission Control, the company’s decision management solution, gives security personnel a holistic, unified, and map-centric view of their entire security and operational infrastructure so they make the right decision when faced with routine tasks or unanticipated situations by ensuring a timely flow of information.
Mission Control enables organisations to better manage the entire lifecycle of incidents and situations, from monitoring incoming sensor data and detecting incidents, all the way through to resolution and auditing. By collecting and qualifying data from thousands of sensors and security devices managed by Security Center, and spotting the most complex situations and incidents, Mission Control guides security teams in their response, following organisation-specific processes and compliancy requirements.
Clearance allows police officers, investigators, and security managers to gather digital evidence from a variety of sources such as Security Center, body-worn devices and cell-phone footage
Gathering digital evidence from different sources
Genetec will also demonstrate the latest version of Clearance, a digital evidence management system designed to speed up investigations by allowing different organisations to collect, manage and share evidence and other relevant case information.
Genetec Clearance allows police officers, investigators, and security managers to gather digital evidence from a variety of sources (such as Security Center and other video management systems, body-worn devices, in-car systems and cell-phone footage from bystanders and witnesses), and easily store, manage, review and share it from within a single application.
By 2020, video surveillance using fixed, body and mobile cameras is expected to capture an astounding 859 PB of video daily. Increasing retention regulations and higher resolution cameras, are forcing the video surveillance industry to reassess its approach to data storage. Large capacity primary storage tends to be expensive to procure and costly to implement – especially without a sound architecture that can balance storage performance levels with the speed of access needed to recall video footage.
Active archive strategy
These challenges are thrusting storage tiers to the forefront of system design. Storage tiers in video surveillance had previously meant simply using a separate archive or attaching add-on capacity directly to network video recorders. Many of the new storage options designed for video surveillance are pulling together different storage tiers into a single storage architecture Many of the new storage options designed for video surveillance are pulling together different storage tiers (and in some cases storage media) into a single storage architecture, such as an active archive solution. This balance can be achieved with an active archive strategy that automates migration of data between different storage types, to ensure the data is on the correct storage type at the correct time to meet performance and retention requirements without blowing the budget.
This approach also ensures ease of access while automatically moving content from more expensive tiers of storage to more cost-effective long-term tiers of storage. This allows for greater efficiencies in how recorded footage is treated throughout its lifecycle. In some cases, it includes moving data from edge devices to centralised storage, and then to the public cloud.
Scalable video storage solutions
As storage demands have increased, video management vendors have turned to storage specialists for solutions that can accommodate large numbers of high-resolution video files, metadata associated with the footage for easy searching, along with much needed scalable solutions. In terms of video management software, this means the integration of video content from different storage types, tiers and physical locations is required, and which considers the performance profile of each storage type. With an active archive solution, video content is searchable and accessible directly by the end users regardless of where it is stored.
Deploying an active archive solution enables surveillance users to reduce the complexity and costs of managing data for long term retention
As seen in many product categories, camera and storage vendors continue to provide extremely competitive offerings. But, storage-specific solutions for video surveillance have lagged behind the roadmaps for video equipment and, as more and more cameras have entered the market, less attention has been placed on video storage capacities.
Tiered storage strategy
The surveillance industry has evolved considerably from the days of the 8mm video recorder; however, enterprise storage solutions will be forced to evolve further to cope with changing storage retention requirements. Video storage is quickly becoming one of the most expensive parts in a surveillance solution, but there is hope. Deploying an active archive solution will enable surveillance users to reduce the complexity and costs of managing from terabytes to petabytes of data for long term retention.
By finding a storage solution that delivers the ability to implement a tiered storage strategy, users can adhere to regulation requirements to retain video footage and meet their safety and security objectives, while also significantly reducing storage costs and operational expenses.
Edesix recently won the contract to supply body worn cameras to Staffordshire Fire and Rescue. The Edinburgh-based BWC expert already works with West Midlands Fire Service, as well as other Emergency Services departments throughout the UK.
The use of Body Worn Cameras for protecting staff, enhancing training and identifying best practice is fast becoming fundamental within fire services throughout the UK.
Enhancing incident decision making
Neil Gordon of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue publicly commented: “The introduction of body worn video is solely for the development of our service, enhancing our already high standard incident decision making to protect life and property.”
Wearable cameras are becoming a key piece of equipment for fire services due to their functionality in highlighting and improving processes, evaluating protocol, improving best practice and also for handling matters of incidents, insurance claims and complaints.
Preserving confidentiality of CCTV footage
Richie McBride, managing director of Edesix explains: "Our VideoBadge range of BWCs are worn by fire and rescue servicemen to audit and improve response performance. VideoBadges are equipped with a range of security features to preserve the confidentiality of any sensitive footage, even if the device is lost, stolen or damaged. VideoBadges are unobtrusive, lightweight and can be fixed to uniforms and helmets, using a variety of mounting options."
Edesix became one of the first BWC providers to supply fire services in the UK
In 2016, Edesix became one of the first BWC providers to supply fire services in the UK when it won the contract to supply fire-fighters in the West Midlands with VideoBadges.
Assisting firefighters and incident commanders
Watch Commanders attending call outs throughout the West Midlands are now equipped with VideoBadges to help share best practice techniques and complement firefighter training, ultimately improving the service's operations well into the future.
Gemma McSweeney, Watch Commander, West Midlands Fire Service, comments: "We're committed to operational excellence and providing the best possible response and service to the communities of the West Midlands. These cameras will play a key role in helping our firefighters and incident commanders be the best they can be."
For the first time in Europe, bodycams have been deployed in public transport on a nationwide level. Dutch railway company NS has equipped 700 safety and service employees with Zepcam bodycams that they can use in unsafe situations to increase safety and prevent escalation of violence and aggression.
Large scale bodycam deployment
Body worn video is mostly used by police, other law enforcement and first responders. However, there is a growing demand for this technology to be used in other sectors like public transport, in order to increase the safety of employees and passengers. In the Netherlands for instance, the number of people who are victims of an annoying violent incident in public transport has increased from 13.5 percent in 2016 to 15.5 percent last year, according to research centre CROW.
It’s the first time a public transportation organisation deploys bodycams on such a large scale within the EU
Dutch Railways (NS) approached Dutch tech company Zepcam to develop bodycam solutions for its safety and service employees. These workers monitor the train stations and approach people who are for instance dodging the fare, behaving aggressively or otherwise causing problems. Thanks to the bodycams, they now can record situations for further investigation and prosecution purposes. Zepcam has over 400 customers in 45 countries, including the police forces of Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, and already supplies mobile video and bodycam solutions to local public transport companies like Movia in Denmark, SBB in Switzerland, SNCF and Veolia in France and Arriva in the UK. At Dutch Railways, it’s the first time a public transportation organisation deploys bodycams on such a large scale within the EU. Benefits of bodycam solutions
According to Marjolein Maasland, representative of Dutch Railways, the new bodycams are comfortable to wear and easy to use. "I believe that the bodycam can help employees positively influence an escalating situation and possibly even prevent an incident," she states.
CEO Bart van der Aa of Zepcam: "We are very proud to be the ones helping Dutch Railways’ safety and service personnel and their passengers decrease violence and prevent escalations. A growing number of organisations is discovering the benefits of our bodycam solutions for application in busses and subway trains and stations. We aim to make public transport safer all over Europe."
Video surveillance has begun offering healthcare providers more than just security; video analytics are now allowing hospitals and clinics to achieve their business goals. Improving patient satisfaction is supported by staff reminders when a patient has been left alone for too long. Even more, an alert can be given to staff members when a patient arrives that needs assistance. This reduces wait times, improves service and gives patients better outcomes.
However, healthcare costs are rising throughout the world. In the US, spending is expected to reach 19.3% of GDP by 2023; whereas the European Union, with more moderate spending, will reach 10% of GDP by 2060. Managing costs has never been more important.
While the benefits of a video surveillance system help healthcare providers to manage their costs by enabling them to achieve their business goals, storing large amounts of video can pose a problem. With many hospitals recording 24/7 and long government mandated retention times, bandwidth and storage space can quickly evaporate.
SAS drives provide reliable system scalability
The SuperNova Series uses SAS technology to improve performance over SATA drives. This is an evolution of the parallel SCSI into point-to-point serial peripheral interface, in which the controllers link directly to the disk drives. With up to 224TB storage on SAS hard drives, superior bi-directional data transfer and high availability support up to 1000 cameras, one SuperNova Server offers scalability at an extraordinary level for mission-critical security applications.
Moreover, by supporting a variety of surveillance cameras, encoders and applications, SuperNova Servers allow customers to build high-quality surveillance systems lowering cost, raising performance and maximising capability. The SuperNova Series’ scalability and bandwidth for up to 1000 cameras make expansion efforts easy while maintaining complete failover redundancy.
All SuperNova Servers can come preloaded with the VMS of the integrator’s choice. This makes them well-suited for enterprise IP video surveillance applications. They can be used as a unified security solution or as a stand-alone platform for video storage, access control, or licence plate recognition.
The IRIS Cam system integration with Genetec Clearance allows efficient video evidence collection & management
Point Blank Enterprises, a manufacturer of soft body armour and related protective solutions, announced that it has been awarded a five-year contract by the North Miami City Council to provide the North Miami Police Department with IRIS Cam body worn cameras, together with a collaborative case management system from Genetec Inc., a leading provider of open-architecture security and public safety solutions.
PBE and Genetec will offer the city of North Miami Police Department an integrated system that combines 120 IRIS Cam body-worn cameras and Genetec Clearance, a case management system designed to accelerate investigations by enabling different organisations to collect, manage and share video evidence.
IRIS Cam body worn camera
The IRIS Cam is designed to meet the growing demand for law enforcement agencies to provide a visual and audio record of officers’ interactions with the public and help agencies improve evidence collection and enhance officer accountability. Built in a ruggedised enclosure, the IRIS cam provides ultra-high definition recording with a 140° FOV, for getting even closer to the action. Additionally, the IRIS Cam ensures not a moment is missed with 30 seconds of pre-recording.
Genetec Clearance case management system
The Genetec Clearance case management system is designed to speed up investigations by enabling different organisations to collect, manage and share video evidence, and other relevant case information. It allows police officers, investigators and security managers to gather digital evidence from the IRIS Cam and other sources—such as cell phone footage from bystanders and witnesses and store surveillance video—and easily store, manage, review and share it from a single application.
Efficient video evidence capturing
The integration of the IRIS Cam system with Genetec Clearance allows for quick and simple uploads, saving officers time at the end of their shift. Post-incident tagging can also be added to the recording, to help with further classification of the event and to aid in locating the file for future searches or investigations.
With built-in video redaction, Genetec Clearance protects the privacy of bystanders by allowing identifiable information to be masked, if video must be shared with 3rd parties or when fulfilling public record requests. All user actions initiated within the system, whether internal or external, are automatically tracked to ensure the chain of custody of the evidence is maintained at all times.
Streamlined video evidence management
“The IRIS Cam system and Genetec Clearance will help the city of North Miami Police Department achieve a streamlined and highly effective process of capturing, managing and administrating video evidence, which will ultimately save the city time and resources in managing cases over the long term,” stated Paulo Motoki, Chief Operating Officer, Point Blank Enterprises. “With over 40 years of trusted service to law enforcement agencies around the world, we are proud to provide a unique hardware/software turnkey solution that will help strengthen accountability and transparency. This will result in more constructive encounters between the police and members of the community,” added Motoki.
An extensive survey revealed that 72% of paramedics were in favour of wearing BWCs at work
Body worn cameras (BWCs) are fast becoming a staple piece of equipment for police officers across the United States. Police forces, such as NYPD, have trialled and adopted BWCs to take advantage of the many benefits associated with greater accountability and transparency, as well as potential cost savings. Yet, unlike the European market where other industries have also bought in to body worn video, the US still views BWCs as predominantly law enforcement specific equipment.Edesix, a UK based manufacturer of complete BWC solutions, has successfully marketed their VideoBadge BWCs, and accompanying VideoManager software, to a range of industries with different requirements and objectives across the globe. Deployments which have proven to be particularly effective include those to emergency services, prisons, and parking enforcement agencies.Emergency servicesThere is significant potential for BWCs within emergency services in the US, not only to protect staff but also improve the quality of these services. In the UK, ambulance crews often use the cameras to record instances of abusive behaviour, whilst paramedics and fire crews use them as valuable training tools to improve techniques out in the field.An extensive survey revealed that 72% of paramedics were in favour of wearing BWCs at work, citing reasons such as feeling safer, being able to record violent patients, and providing accurate information to medical teams further down the patient’s treatment.Fire and rescue services also value body worn video in their line of work. Edesix recently supplied fire crews of the West Midlands Fire Service with VideoBadge VB-300s, which they will use to identify training requirements and maintain public safety, resulting in improved services in the near future.PrisonsPrisons are a notorious environment for instances of abusive behaviour and assaults. In the US alone, 33.5% of prison assaults are committed against staff members. The presence of BWCs has been proven to improve both staff and prisoner safety, by acting as a deterrent to abusive behaviour whilst recording court-ready evidence of incidents.
"For the moment being, law enforcement agencies and police forces will remain the biggest endorsers and advocates of body worn video systems in the US"
The UK, too, has a problem with prison safety. In July, the Ministry of Justice reported that assaults on prison staff were at a record high. Edesix has since supplied HM Prison services across England with VB-300 body worn cameras, which were extremely well received by prison guards and inmates alike.
By wearing BWCs, prison staff can quell violent behaviour before it even begins. Prisoners are made aware that both their actions and the staff’s actions are being carefully monitored, which helps create a more harmonious environment, even in particularly rough prisons.Parking enforcementParking enforcement officers routinely have to deal with disgruntled drivers who, on occasion, may become violent or abusive. BWCs have been used extensively in the parking industry in Europe for a few years to great effect. The American parking market is growing, with a leading market research agency predicting that 14,655 BWCs will be deployed to parking and civil enforcement organisations in 2017.This year Edesix provided Gravesham Traffic Wardens, who had been the targets of a recent spate of abuse, with VideoBadge VB-200 BWCs. Members of the public can now see that they may be recorded and, as a result, many do not escalate their behaviour. If the parking enforcement officer does experience any abuse, they are able to record HD court-ready evidence, which can then be referred to the police.Future of BWCs in United States For the moment being, law enforcement agencies and police forces will remain the biggest endorsers and advocates of body worn video systems in the US. However, as other industries begin to see the possible, and perhaps already evident, advantages of BWCs they will invest in the technology. As many industries in Europe have shown, the applications for BWCs are far more ranging than could have been previously thought only a few years ago.
Among its many uses and benefits, technology is a handy tool in the fantasy world of movie and television thrillers. We all know the scene: a vital plot point depends on having just the right super-duper gadget to locate a suspect or to get past a locked door. In movies and TV, face recognition is more a super power than a technical function. Video footage can be magically enhanced to provide a perfect image of a license plate number. We have all shaken our heads in disbelief, and yet, our industry’s technical capabilities are improving every day. Are we approaching a day when the “enhanced” view of technology in movies and TV is closer to the truth? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How much has the gap closed between the reality of security system capabilities and what you see on TV (or at the movies)?
Body-worn cameras are becoming more common every day, driven both by needs of the marketplace and technology developments. However, questions remain about the usefulness of the devices, and their future role in promoting safety and security. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the challenges of body-worn cameras for the security industry?