Washington DC July 9 2018 Two minutes after the glass door of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, was blasted by a shotgun round, and five newspaper employees were killed, police had the alleged shooter in custody.
But they had a problem when they took him in for questioning. He had no identification, he would not talk to police and his fingerprints returned no results from any database.
Police were stumped, but then investigators thought to put the mystery gunman’s photo into the state’s new facial recognition system. In a matter of minutes, the alleged shooter was identified as Jarrod Ramos, a man who had previously sued the paper for its coverage of his arrest and conviction on stalking charges a few years earlier.
While Ramos’ trial is still months away, the successful use of computer technology to confirm a murder suspect’s identity made it clear that facial recognition systems have reached the point where they can perform reliably enough to identify a random person fairly reliability.
What’s equally important is that this is one form of biometric technology that doesn’t require a lot of expensive hardware to implement nor does it require direct interaction of an individual with a card reader, biometrically-control door lock or similar technology.
Those two characteristics make it ideal as a way to improve corporate security in some specific ways while making it possible to sidestep the privacy concerns that surround government use of such technology. In many companies, the implementation of facial recognition can be accomplished with little more than some software and a cloud account that includes access to artificial intelligence with image processing capability.
Finding such support isn’t particularly difficult. IBM focuses on exactly that capability with the IBM Cloud and Watson. Amazon, Google and Microsoft also have been perfecting such capabilities. In fact, Microsoft and Amazon have been catching heat from their own employees who fear that the technology is so good it will lead to privacy issues if the technology is sold to government and law enforcement agencies.
This technology could be used to bolster corporate and data center security systems by using existing surveillance cameras as part of a biometric security system. Chances are that you’ve already instituted some form of access control for sensitive areas in your company. These controls may include digital combination locks, smart cards or perhaps fingerprint readers. You may already have more than one of those access control methods.
But each of those systems requires a physical interaction with the person trying to gain access. If that person somehow gets past your perimeter security, then what? This is where facial recognition can help out.