Security cameras in the UK will scan thousands of soccer fans’ faces in June

May 15, 2017 - 

This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews, a biometrics and technology writer.

From airport body scanners to metal detectors at museums, we’ve become accustomed to increasingly advanced forms of security in public places. However, security officials in the United Kingdom will take things to the next level by using security cameras with face scanners.

Learn how this particular advancement might affect human safety, as well as how the security field has changed in recent years.

Football Fans and Others Under Scrutiny

The advancement mentioned above has to do with an initiative by the South Wales police force involving scanning the faces of the up to 170,000 people who are in the city on June 3, the day of the UEFA Champions League football match, even if those individuals aren’t going to the stadium for the soccer spectacle.

Cameras around the stadium and South Wales’ main train station will use automated facial recognition, or AFR, to compare faces against a database that contains information about 500,000 people of interest. There are usage guidelines that mean the police can technically only capture as much information as they need, and they must be transparent about their methods.

For facial recognition to work, it has to pick up on full head images. Critics of this technology say it’ll be impossible to get those kinds of shots in a busy train station. It’s impossible if people aren’t facing the camera or have their faces covered.

There have been mixed reviews about the success of facial recognition technology, and some are suspecting this particular experiment might be an effort to prove it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

An Expensive Contract

The permission granted for the facial recognition technology to be used at the football match is part of a two-year contract worth £177k, approximately $210,000, to utilize the advancements in automated facial recognition technology.

Developments in the Security Industry

Technology has come a long way from the days when Moses Farmer used an electromagnet to experiment with security systems. In that instance, the electromagnet activated a circuit at regular intervals, which triggered a bell to ring. Farmers’ technology was eventually used in home security enhancements and a citywide system that alerted firehouses about local emergencies.

Now, there are security systems that allow people to see images of visitors on computer or smartphone screens after the doorbell rings. After verifying who is at the door, the home occupant can decide whether to grant access.
It’s not surprising the security industry has come such a long way. Since medieval times when castles were designed to keep enemies out, people have worked hard to keep property safe.

How AFR Combatted Concert Ticket Scalping

AFR could keep possessions safe, too. Ticket scalping is a major problem in the music industry because it prevents genuine fans of bands from seeing the acts at fair prices — scalpers snatch the tickets up and sell them for prices much higher than face value.

In Japan, AFR has been depended upon since 2014 to curb ticket scalping for the band Momoiro Rose, a popular girl band. The technology shortens the time fans have to wait to get into the venue, lets staff avoid the time-consuming process of checking IDs and stops the tickets from being resold.

Currently, it’s only available for the band’s fan club members and requires them to upload a picture to a database prior to the concert. However, a concert executive mentioned the technology may one day be used to stop terrorism, so its use may soon be expanded at concerts, too.

The security industry is certainly advancing in fascinating ways. Within several years’ time, the methods we are most familiar with that keep people safe may be completely different than what they are now.

DISCLAIMER: BiometricUpdate.com blogs are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BiometricUpdate.com.

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About Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a biometrics and technology writer who contributes to VentureBeat, VICE, MakeUseOf and The Week. To read more posts from Kayla, you can follow her blog Productivity Bytes.