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Surveillance cameras to reach 1 billion by 2021 as face biometrics for police, schools, retail roll out

Surveillance cameras to reach 1 billion by 2021 as face biometrics for police, schools, retail roll out

There will be one billion surveillance cameras in operation around the world by 2021, up nearly 30 percent from 770 million today, according to an IHS Markit forecast reported by The Wall Street Journal.

China is expected to remain the world leader in deployments, with just over half of the world’s total. Cameras in the U.S. are expected to increase from 70 million to 85 million.

The increase in driven by public safety concerns and smart city projects, but also by technology breakthroughs that enable faster and more effective facial recognition and video analytics.

Hikvision and Dahua lead the market, with a combined 38 percent share, but between both being included on the U.S. Entity List, and growing concerns in their home market, that lead may shrink.

Nearly three quarters of people in China (74 percent) want to have the option to use traditional methods of identification instead of facial recognition, according to research by the Nandu Personal Information Protection Research Centre in Beijing, and reported by the Financial Times.

Between 60 and 70 percent say facial recognition makes transport hubs, schools, shopping centers, and residential compounds safer and more convenient, many among the public are concerned about leaks of sensitive personal data, and want more control over it. The risk of lax security practices by biometric system operators exposing their personal information is a concern for 80 percent of respondents.

Further, 57 percent say they are concerned about their movements being tracked, and 84 percent want review and deletion-request rights. Roughly 60 percent said they had been unable to confirm their identity with the technology at least once.

FT reports that SenseTime acknowledged recently that the public is becoming more concerned with industry privacy and security issues.

U.S. Chamber adopts principles

The Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has published a set of four facial recognition policy principles to guide policymakers as they consider regulating the technology.

The Chamber principles include prioritizing transparency in the use of facial recognition, protecting privacy and personal data, developing an appropriate regulatory framework to promote innovation, civil liberties, and human rights, and promoting accountability and consistency through standards and testing.

The latter two break down further, with the regulatory framework intended to promote facial biometrics’ beneficial uses while mitigating risks, pursuing a risk-based and use-case specific approach, and establishing a single national governance and regulatory framework. The standards and testing principle states that the development of risk-based performance standards should be supported, and federal investment should be made in testing and benchmarking.

Dataworks Plus to provide New Zealand police system

The biometric system used by NZ Police is being upgraded to include a “state of the art” facial recognition system from Dataworks Plus, which is planned for roll-out in the second half of 2020, Stuff reports.

Dataworks Plus uses an NEC facial recognition algorithm, and has set up facial recognition for Maryland police.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show the automatic facial recognition system will be capable of searching still captured by CCTV against a police database, and that police are working to add images of prisoners, firearms license holders, missing persons and registered child sex offenders to the database. Police also want the system to enable searches based on tattoos and other distinguishing characteristics. The system will not be linked to driver’s licenses.

Dataworks Plus Executive Vice President and General Manager Todd Pastorini emphasized that the system will help investigators narrow down their searches, but leave establishing certainty up to detectives.

University of Auckland associate professor of law Gehan Gunasekara, who also chairs Privacy Foundation NZ, suggests the technology is not needed by the country’s police, and that it poses potential privacy risks. “Once you have that infrastructure in place then it’s the thin edge of the wedge,” he says. He also expressed disappointment over the lack of public consultation in the process.

Lockport School District nears approval

The New York State Education Department is close to approving the use of facial recognition by Lockport School District, according to a letter to district Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley reported by Governing.

The department says that with a few more policy changes to ensure students’ images are not enrolled in the system, its use will be allowed. Its Chief Privacy Officer Temitope Akinyemi expressed satisfaction at the changes so far. The letter does, however, request the district draft a new section in its policy “to clearly set forth the prohibition that the facial recognition system will never be used to create or maintain student data, and that in no event shall a District student be placed in the Aegis system database, regardless of whether the student would otherwise fall within one of the categories set forth in the Maintenance of Databases section of the policy or the policy in general.”

The 300 cameras, servers and software that make up the Aegis system cost the district $1.4 million. The system has been installed in the district office and ten school buildings, at a total cost of $3.8 million.

The school board earlier implemented object detection for weapons on the system, but its biometric capabilities remain so far untapped.

Details of Facewatch retail implementation revealed

In a report from The Wall Street Journal on the increasing use of facial recognition by private companies, and the uncertain legal and regulatory environment it occurs in, the use of technology from Facewatch by some outlets of retailer Budgens is discussed.

The convenience store chain has been using the technology for just over a year, according to the report. One staff member said the system alerts him about customers between once and ten times a day, and a Facewatch spokesman says it has seen false positive alerts in 15 percent or less of cases based on its own analysis.

Budgens store operator Paul Wilks wholeheartedly endorsed the technology earlier this year.

Moscow system leaking

Access to Moscow’s giant facial biometric surveillance system is being sold on the black market, according to MBK Media.

Journalist Andrey Kaganskikh claims to have observed illegal sales of access to the CCTV system on web charts and forums, and says the sellers are law enforcement officials and people with access to the Integrated Center for Data Processing and Storage (YTKD). The price for a link to a certain camera and its footage for the last five days is provided for the cost of several thousand rubles (roughly US$30-150), he reports. For 30,000 rubles, ($470), a login and password providing unlimited system access can be had.

Possible matches by the facial recognition system for a certain individual are also available, but a search by the reporter for himself provided numerous images, which he says include none of him, and several who appear to be women.

Kaganskikh verified the codes of cameras listed in search results against the public registry of Moscow’s surveillance cameras, and found they appear to confirm the claims of the black-market sellers.

Irish children’s hospital deploys Hikvision

The New Children’s Hospital in Ireland is the most expensive hospital project ever built, according to IPVM, and will include a surveillance system with facial recognition supplied end-to-end by Hikvision.

The IVPM report notes the growing price tag for the hospital, which is currently over $2 billion with construction ongoing. It also notes that the company has been censored for its participation in human rights abuses in Xinjiang and added to the U.S. Entity List, despite thousands of its cameras still being in operation around America.

The hospital says details of its facial recognition system have not been decided yet, and it is reported that less than three percent of the cameras are of a model designed for facial recognition. The report is sure to draw a response from the hospital, if not lawmakers, so this story is likely just beginning.

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