Cruise lines using BriefCam’s facial recognition for COVID-19 contact tracing

biometric facial recognition

Cruise ships operated by Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have integrated BriefCam video analytics with facial recognition into their existing security systems for easy contract tracing of passengers, The Points Guy reports.

The author of the article recounts her recent travel experience on the Celebrity Millennium cruise in which she was identified and made to quarantine for 13 hours because of her contact with two persons who tested positive for COVID-19.

She wondered how she was identified as having made such contact with the infected pair, only to realize it was thanks to biometric security and surveillance cameras installed on the ships.

These cameras, she explained, are meant to enhance the ships’ surveillance systems and make it possible to detect where passengers have been to and who they come in close contact with, via the use of facial recognition.

BriefCam’s technology is one of those technologies being adopted especially as the cruising industry looks to resume full normal operations.

Susan Lomax, Celebrity’s head of global public relations, is quoted as saying that although they have had on board CCTV cameras for many years now, they have now bolstered the capability of the system with video analytics technology from BriefCam, which added face biometrics to its feature portfolio late in 2018.

BriefCam’s website explains how the contacts of a person who tests positive can be traced by matching the photo submitted by the cruise passenger during or before boarding, with footage captured by the on-board cameras to know areas to which the person went while on the cruise, even if they had a face mask on or not.

“Face recognition with face masks is indeed supported, and the accuracy of this capability has been dramatically enhanced with BriefCam’s latest software release. BriefCam is working with some of the world’s largest cruise lines,” Stephanie Weagle, BriefCam’s chief operating officer told The Points Guy, but declined to give details on which cruise lines the company is working with.

The cruise lines say the biometric data is generally destroyed six weeks after the end of the voyage it is enrolled for, with certain expectations.

Celebrity uses Axis security cameras, and BriefCam’s edge analytics were integrated with Axis’ platform to run on the cameras themselves, according to an announcement last year, shortly after BriefCam added people counting and other analytics capabilities.

Apart from facial recognition, other cruise lines are deploying wearable biometrics as a way of on-board contact tracing. Before the pandemic, some of the wearables were used by some cruise lines for different purposes including as keycards or to trace passenger location by catering attendants or for parents to find their kids while on the vessel.

The articles states that this technology, because of the pandemic, is now available on all Princess ships and is expected to be widely used for virus contact tracing when cruises actually fully resume.

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