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Survey from Accenture examines perception of video analytics and facial recognition


Accenture’s Digital Pulse survey recently asked citizens to weigh in on the top-three ways that government can keep citizens safe at public events such as parades, political conventions or concerts. The survey asked whether government should monitor social media for potential threats, increase government and police collaboration, or use facial recognition and video analytic technology to thwart attacks.

The data showed some unexpected gender and generational gaps. According to the survey, almost one half (47 percent) of Baby Boomers chose social media monitoring as a top-three priority to keep citizens safe at public events, compared to just over a third (36 percent) of millennials. Meanwhile, men were more likely to support government’s use of facial recognition and video analytics than women: 63 percent versus 55 percent.


“The survey demonstrated that generational differences influence how people think about safety,” stated Ira Entis, Accenture’s Managing Director of Emerging Technology, in an exclusive interview with BiometricUpdate.com. “Millennials are less receptive of social media surveillance technologies.”

The rationale for the study was to determine whether there is a trend towards greater acceptance of surveillance in the aid of public safety in the United States. The survey found that citizens have mixed feelings about such security measures and that they will accept broad (crowd management) rather than targeted (social media) approaches.

In the survey, there was mixed overall reaction concerning the actions that governments can take to keep citizens and spectators safe at public events. The increased collaboration option ranked number one (30 percent), while the use of technology to monitor suspicious behavior ranked second (22 percent). Mobile alerts ranked third (15 percent), social monitoring fourth (13 percent) and emergency simulation ranked fifth (11 percent).

The survey, part of a continuing series, is an initiative of Accenture’s Federal Services business that is aimed to clarify public opinion concerning major issues of public policy.

As Entis noted during his interview: “Education is key to building trust concerning technology, and transparency is especially key to building trust with millennials. Our survey process acknowledges that the human dimension, people, are at the center of decision-making. Service-based design requires people at the center.”

Indeed, Accenture’s latest Digital Pulse survey revealed that improving digital government services creates citizen engagement and trust. The more recent survey also revealed that citizens in the United States today are engaged digitally than many in government assume. The survey determined that the top three citizen demands include: the ability to get questions answered completely; assurance of privacy and security; and the ability to see the status of a request or activity.

“The litany of opportunities for government to leverage technology include analytics,” noted Entis. “We can expect governments to use publicly available data, including social media and methodologies such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning to expand their service delivery capabilities.”

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