Facial recognition technology is not only meant for unlocking phones. It is used in many places where face detection is priority. While biometric face detection is good on a smartphone, the services from major tech companies are also using it. Google is using it. Facebook is using it. Many others are using it. Why? Probably to make life easier for their consumers. Google and Facebook are using face recognition technology on their websites to allow people or users to group their known ones into a single album or while searching. This makes it easier for users to know who they are and group similar photos in one place, or pull up the same in a search.
However, face recognition technology is also used by the authorities. The police can use this tech to find suspects and missing people. However, though the technology is still in its learning phase, it is far more superior than you think. The technology can recognize a face by using the facial structure and match it with a database to put a name on it. Faces can be recognized from photos and videos. But recognizing faces and tagging them on a large scale is even more difficult as the technology can be slower than needed.
Millions of photos from people around the world capture billions and trillions of faces. And processing each photo is not a small task. This needs a super computer, and that is one huge expense. However, for the authorities, this technology is crucial, which can help solve thousands of cases of finding wanted suspects and missing people.
Doing face recognition on photos and videos is still an easier task, but doing it live is a bigger job for the supercomputer. Grabbing videos from a live feed, be it a regular camera, a streaming video or a CCTV feed is a major task. The police in London are making that attempt with a trial run by using the technology on the streets.
What is Live Facial Recognition
Live Facial Recognition (LFR), is technology that can identify a person from a digital image. The technology is being used to assist in the prevention and detection of crime by identifying wanted criminals.
The LFR cameras are focused on an area, when people pass through the area their images are streamed directly to the Live Facial Recognition system database. This database contains the ‘watch list’: a list of offenders wanted by the police and courts for various offences.
How the LFR system works
Live Facial Recognition uses NEC’s NeoFace technology to analyse images of the faces of people on the watch list. It measures the structure of each face, including distance between eyes, nose, mouth and jaw to create facial data.
The system detects a face, creates a digital version of it and searches it against the watch list; where it makes a match it sends an alert to an officer on the scene.
The officer compares the camera image and the watch list image and decides whether to stop and speak to the person. They have always explained why they’ve stopped someone; and also give them a leaflet that explains how they can contact the authorities to ask any questions afterwards.
The system will only keep faces matching the watch list, these are kept for 30 days, all others are deleted immediately. They will delete all other data on the watch list and the footage they record.
Anyone can refuse to be scanned; it's not an offence or considered ‘obstruction’ to actively avoid being scanned.
How are the London Police using facial recognition?
The Met is trialling Live Facial Recognition technology. They are testing it in a range of environments including public events and crowded public spaces. Wherever they have used it, they have done so openly.
-information leaflets handed out to the public
-posters placed in and around the area to make people aware the technology is being used
-officers engaging with members of the public to explain the process
To date they have used it six times, at the following places:
-Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017
-Remembrance Day 2017
-Port of Hull docks (assisting Humberside Police) in 2018
-Stratford transport hub for two days in June and July 2018
There will be four more LFR trials, ten in total, before they evaluate the trial at the end of 2018. Future deployments under consideration are: football sporting events, music festivals and transport hubs.
The Met will assess and analyse the results, which will be accredited by independent authorities.
The police will also hold a public consultation to discuss the use of facial recognition and to canvass public concerns about it. An Advisory Consultation Group (ACG) of key stakeholders has been set up to discuss the use of Live Facial Recognition.
Why are the Metropolitan Police in UK trialling LFR
They are trialling the new technology to find out if it's a useful policing tactic to deter and prevent crime and bring to justice wanted criminals.
The trial has been set up to find out if the technology and how they use it can work in a range of locations, conditions and scenarios with the engagement of the public.
They feel it's important to run the trial in real life conditions to get accurate data and learn as much as possible from it.
Photos: Metropolitan Police, UK...