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August 21, 2018

How Face Recognition Cameras Can Make Companies More Secure and Productive

There continues to be a lot of press these days about facial recognition whether it’s Amazon misclassifying members of Congress as a potential criminal, how Maryland police used it to quickly catch a man who murdered 5 people at the Capital Gazette, or probably the best-known use case where the iPhone X uses it to unlock your phone.

Any new technology like this can have its pros and cons, but we believe that the pros can far outweigh the cons especially with the proper privacy safeguards put in place.  In a company environment, it’s important that employees know what facial recognition is used for and how it affects their privacy.  This can often be accomplished by publishing this information in an employee handbook which we have always recommended.  Furthermore, it’s imperative only certain people have access to this data and that vendors like us put all the necessary safeguards in place to protect this data through means including encryption and monitoring access to our systems.

Once a company has ensured the privacy of their employees and their customers, there are numerous ways to unlock the benefits of facial recognition to make your organization more secure and productive.  We’ll discuss a few that often come up in our conversations with customers.

Unique People Counting

With facial recognition, it’s possible to count the number of unique people.  This can have applications for retail stores, offices, or any other environment where knowing the unique count of people during a timeframe is important.  The reason why facial recognition is so valuable in this scenario is that there aren't many distinctive characteristics of a person that can be visually seen except for a face.  With facial recognition, you can easily count how many unique visitors entered a space or how often a particular individual returned.  This is extremely helpful when trying to determine things like employee staffing, space utilization, repeat customers, unique visits per day, and much more.

Some companies will try to accomplish this via Wi-Fi counting, but these statistics are often unreliable due to how Apple anonymizes their WiFi and BLE discovery.  Furthermore, it’s not guaranteed that people have these features enabled on their phone making this method unreliable.

Unidentified People or Specified People Alerts

There are often scenarios where a company wants to be informed if there is an unidentified person in the office after a certain time or even if a specific person, like a disgruntled ex-employee, is on-premise.  Having this type of information makes a video security system much more timely and helpful.  Existing systems are only useful after the fact, but a real-time facial recognition system gives administrators timely information when there is some type of potential threat.

Searching by Face

Searching through video history for a particular person is much easier and faster when using facial recognition.  Because there is that unique ID for a given person, if a company needs to quickly investigate an issue (maybe someone is committing fraud at a bank), they can quickly search their system across all cameras for anywhere that person has appeared.  There are obvious privacy concerns in this type of scenario which is why it’s imperative for any organization to be very transparent with employees and customers on how they’re using this data.

Multi-Factor Authentication

There are numerous flaws with badge systems with the most glaring flaw being that an access control system has no way of knowing if the person using the badge is the actual owner.  Facial recognition can immediately improve that flaw by allowing for a multi-factor method of authentication that combines the existing badge with someone’s face.  While not unbeatable, it’s a lot more secure than just using a traditional badge system.

Conclusion

These are just a few ways customers are asking us about using facial recognition within their enterprise.  We know that more applications will continue to come up as the technology matures, but we feel as long as privacy is considered from the beginning, the benefits of facial recognition will far outweigh any potential issues that may arise when using it.

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