Last Updated on August 2, 2022 by Josh Mahan
Thirty years after its introduction, facial recognition software and equipment have undergone tremendous advancements in technology and capabilities. Fast-forward to today, users of facial recognition software can receive results in nearly real-time, providing substantial benefits for law enforcement and other agencies to solve or prevent crime.
Facial recognition software, and its use, are not without controversy. Since its use is generally unknown to the subject of the recognition software, some believe this amounts to an invasion of privacy.
With the advancement in technology and abilities, new laws and regulations have been put into place to ensure the fair and ethical use of facial recognition software.
When used in such a manner, facial recognition can be just what is needed to solve a case or even prevent a crime from happening.
Outside of law enforcement, facial recognition can significantly decrease security screening while keeping the same level of integrity. Here are six examples where facial recognition was successfully used, responsibly and ethically.
1) Finding Missing People
One of the best use cases for facial recognition in law enforcement is its use in finding missing people. Regardless of the age, trying to find a missing person in a crowd or within a city can be nearly impossible utilizing only physical searches by detectives and agents.
The integration of facial recognition software to existing traffic or security cameras can exponentially broaden the search, as modern software now can pick out an individual within crowds of over 50,000 people.
In India, facial recognition has helped police find over 3,000 missing children in just 4 days.
2) Identifying Those Who Can’t Identify Themselves
With memory issues that come with age and some mental illnesses, some unfortunate people can become lost and confused. In the absence of any physical identification, they may not be able to identify themselves.
Facial recognition software can help by identifying who an individual is and help to give them the assistance or services they need. In northern Virginia, a man was located utilizing facial recognition after a group of veterans contacted law enforcement and advised them he was missing and had suicidal thoughts.
3) Retail and Customer Services
Nearly every grocery and retail store has a loyalty program to track purchases made by frequent customers and provide benefits and rewards. Since each program requires a stamp card or number to remember, it can become difficult to keep track of them.
The restaurant Caliburger has started using facial recognition for their repeat patrons to customize their experience based on their frequent choices, offer contactless payment and track purchases within their reward program.
4) Preventing Retail Crime
In nearly every area, crime and retail theft appear to be rising. Retailers are doing everything they can to prevent theft, including the use of private security companies, inventory control tags, and other anti-theft systems. However, as criminals adapt to and learn from these measures, these methods become less effective.
By integrating facial recognition software into a retailer’s existing security camera network, the security guards or agents can remain hidden and utilize the alerts from the facial recognition software when there is a known criminal in the location. This helps by preventing misidentification and hopefully reducing the likelihood of the escalation of violence.
In some cases, software reduced retail theft by up to 91%.
5) Protecting Hospitals
One of the most recognizable systems used in hospitals is the use of keycards and passwords to access patient rooms or stations that hold medications or controlled substances. A process such as this one adds a certain level of risk with added control needed for the physical cards and the passcodes.
By replacing the key cards and passcodes with facial recognition software, hospitals can provide additional security and control to patients and medication while still allowing easy access for required staff.
Many hospitals have replaced their entire systems with facial recognition. Not only did this increase the level of safety and security within the hospitals, but it has also nearly eliminated the risk of cross-contamination on the buttons of keypads. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it proved vital to reducing the spread of germs and diseases between patients.
6) Protecting Schools
Schools have taken substantial measures to safeguard the students, patients, and staff. However, not all of these measures are foolproof and may not prevent others with malicious intent from entering.
Many schools utilize private security companies or peace officers to help keep their students and staff safe. However, these officers and agents are only human, and have a limited area they can observe in a given time.
Facial recognition can alert staff and administrators to individuals not authorized to be within the building or on school grounds quickly and efficiently. While officers or individuals can only see, for example, one hallway at a time, cameras can observe an entire floor at once. With the prevalence of shootings, this technology could save lives.
Use in Law Enforcement
The use of facial recognition in law enforcement has been critical in bolstering continued advancements in successful criminal and civil law resolution.
If used ethically and within regulations, facial recognition can easily be an essential tool for law enforcement agencies in keeping the public and their agents and officers safe.
Security Checkpoints at National Borders or Airports
In 2017, both major airports in Paris, Charles De Gaulle, and Orly upgraded a group of their biometric security systems from utilizing travelers’ fingerprints to facial recognition.
Since nearly half of all international travelers who fly through these two airports have passports compatible with facial recognition, a robust test was conducted using over 100 checkpoints.
During the test, boarding times and checkpoint delays were reduced by up to 40%, and the average time for the facial recognition to verify the travelers’ identities averaged two seconds.
While there was two percent of the test group where the facial identification alone could not verify their identity, the results are promising, and more airports are rolling out similar systems.
While there are still some privacy concerns to iron out, facial recognition has already made endless helpful contributions to society and is here to stay.