The Future Looks a Lot Like You and Me
The rise of facial recognition is making us safer
- By Denis Petrov
- Mar 01, 2019
Security and its technologies are, of course, ever-evolving.
From simple photo IDs of the past to 2D barcodes
and the now ubiquitous use of video cameras,
businesses, schools and venues are constantly looking
for better ways to protect people and property.
As with most things in life, the more sophisticated the systems, the
greater the cost, which can keep better security beyond the reach of
many organizations. That’s why new evolutions in facial recognition
technology offer so much promise in allowing a wider range of businesses
and institutions to simply and easily enhance security with the
most unique identifier this side of our fingerprints—the human face.
Today, I’m proud to say facial recognition is becoming increasingly
accessible to organizations of all sizes, requiring only a video camera
and a few lines of code. Through computer vision and machine
learning, the technology can recognize and measure people in any
video, image, or photo. Its uses are both practical and game-changing,
allowing organizations to scan the faces of those on or near their
properties to spot potential threats and to verify individuals’ identities.
The benefits of facial recognition to highly-secure facilities are
fairly obvious, but now that it’s more accessible, this technology has
far reaching, practical uses for virtually any type of business, like retailers,
clubs, hotels, entertainment venues, and casinos.
We all know fraud and identity theft are major problems responsible
for millions of dollars lost and countless horror stories. Lexis-
Nexis’ 2017 True Cost of Fraud report estimates the total amount of
loss a merchant incurs, based on the actual dollar value of a fraudulent
transaction, is up to $2.77 from the previous year’s figure of
$2.40. Furthermore, the report notes that the volume of fraud has
been on the rise in both successful and prevented fraudulent transactions.
Also noted in the report is limited merchant access to fraudfighting
I’ve spent my entire career pioneering solutions to prevent identity
fraud, and have been inspired to make facial recognition more widely
accessible to businesses and organizations of all types. Facial recognition
means more secure environments in the places where we live,
work, shop, and visit. Now, more than ever, facial recognition technology
is being used for access control and visitor management. A
camera reads visitors’ faces as they approach an access control point,
such as an automated door or reception desk. The person’s facial features
are then validated against biometric data previously loaded into
the system to ensure the person has authorization to enter.
This same system can also streamline visitor check in at office buildings, public events and schools. The true power and potential of facial recognition in these kinds of venues is showcased when we
consider just what these systems can accomplish in regards to real
time watch-list detection. In this use, a camera (much like those we
currently see in any number of public spaces) scans crowds to read
faces, verify identities and run this information against watch lists,
such as sex offender registries or internal “banned” lists.
Facial recognition is also a great tool for retailers and other businesses
to greatly enhance customer experiences. Anytime a VIP customer
enters a venue, they can be instantly identified so that experiences
can be maximized and their preferences available to staff to
help them better serve the customer. Casinos are using this technology
to identify VIP guests at the door, and they are pairing it with
added layers of identity verification, running individual’s identities
against internal banned lists and watch lists, such as Self-Exclusion,
OFAC, and more.
Similarly, Delta recently unveiled facial recognition technology
to allow passengers to check in at self-service kiosks, drop checked
baggage, and serve as identification at the TSA checkpoint. Facial
recognition is marrying security with customer experience and improving
These uses of facial recognition technology clearly offer benefits
to business and consumers alike. Yet too often in the news media,
however, we get only the more sensational or “hot button” approaches
to reporting on new technologies as opposed to more sober analysis
of why these technologies are being developed in the first place.
Recently, the pop singer Taylor Swift was in the news because of a
facial recognition kiosk that was placed outside her concert venues. The
screens on the kiosks played film clips of her videos and some of her
concert footage. Those who stopped to watch the footage had their faces
scanned and run against a database of known Taylor Swift stalkers.
The ACLU raised concerns over this use of facial recognition without
the knowledge of those interacting with the kiosk screens and this,
was, of course what made the headlines in the reporting. But cameras
in public spaces have long been a part of everyday life in the name of
crime prevention and security. It could be argued whether the use of facial
recognition technology at a concert was really that much different.
Given recent terrorist events at concerts worldwide, would a majority
of concert-goers be against a technology that could potentially alert
security personnel to violent or unstable individuals?
The possibilities for facial recognition are endless and can enhance
security across a broad range of industries and applications.
Certainly recent events have placed school security foremost in
the minds of all of us. Here again, more accessible, more affordable
and simple-to-implement facial recognition technology can give our
schools a potentially life-saving security tool. Facial recognition can
ensure unauthorized individuals do not have access to the campus—
a key factor in the spate of recent school shootings. Similarly, violence
by disgruntled former employees could potentially be thwarted
if flagged individuals were not allowed access to the workplace and
security were alerted, through facial recognition, that a flagged individual
was nearing the property.
On a more everyday level, for example, the technology can also be
utilized to ensure parents who may have lost custody are prevented
from illegally taking children from the school. It could also be used
to help reduce and discourage drug activity around school campuses
and to keep sex offenders away.
Financial institutions could greatly reduce fraudulent transactions
on premises by simply matching the face in front of the teller
window to that on file. Clubs could immediately identify VIP customers
as they approach the door as well as those who may have been
placed on banned lists.
And all of this can be accomplished seamlessly, simply and affordably,
with no inconvenience to customers and many potential
benefits. Most of all, the security of the businesses and public spaces
we regularly utilize will be greatly enhanced. I like to think of facial
recognition as a better answer to the office ID
badge or key card you have to swipe to enter a
A better answer that is staring back at us in
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Security Today.