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Australian surveillance group head says retail stores should install facial recognition

Professor Brian C. Lovell, Director of the Advanced Surveillance Group in the School of ITEE at the University of Queensland in Australia, suggests that face recognition technology be implemented at retails stores to locate lost children, detect persons of interest or provide marketing data to retailers, according to a report by Brisbane Times.

Speaking at the annual Safe Cities Conference in Brisbane, Professor Lovell said he wanted to implement face recognition technology in situations where individuals are unaware that they are being photographed.

He said that while the technology was has already been used at airports in Australia and around the world, it is far too expensive and only works with co-operative people.

Facial recognition technology is being used in the retail space to monitor people looking at advertising billboards in New York’s Times Square and in Chicago, as well as monitoring the ages and genders of customers entering retail stores.

“We’ve got these face recognition appliances, but how do we connect up hundreds of thousands of these things … you want to have them in every 7-Eleven store, every Myer, Coles, Woolworths,” Professor Lovell said. “If you’re looking for a certain person you want to know where they are. It doesn’t have to be master criminals, it could be lost children in shopping centers.”

Professor Lovell said that existing CCTV networks are often situated in the wrong locations and generate large data rates, and as a result are too costly.

To improve on this, he said that recent advancements in facial recognition could significantly improve privacy, reduce costs and be used in day-to-day operations.

Last summer, Professor Lovell tested facial recognition software in shopping centers in Brazil during the Olympics. The cameras were configured to maximum range and people did not look at the cameras.

The cameras have since been refined and are currently undergoing a trial phase at Brothers Leagues Club in Ipswich, England.

He said that facial recognition software could also be used in pubs and clubs as a more cost-effective approach to identifying patrons than security guards.

“From here we plan to connect up a network of pubs and clubs, fine-tune this and the idea is to connect it up across a whole lot of RSLs. We have also done installation in banks for access control … you get an audit trail for anyone that comes through into a secure financial facility,” Professor Lovell added, adding that hospitals have also shown interest.

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