Tech Thursday: Could facial recognition technology be the solution to crime in future?

One doesn’t have to imagine a future where we all walk around with security drone cameras hovering over our faces whenever there is suspicious activity around us. That possibility is already here. Just a year ago, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department reported a reduction in crime after they had installed CCTV security cameras around the CBD. It’s a pity that this was followed by reports that the same CCTV cameras were virtually unmonitored and that no recordings were being made at the time. These recordings of photos and videos of crime happening in the city were very crucial to persecuting criminals.

The City of Johannesburg has recently denied the allegations that the cameras were off or unmanned. This is after the South African Police Service (SAPS) said they didn’t have footage of a fatal shooting in the CBD due to faulty CCTV cameras.

Taken by Rob Dennison.

The technology provided to reduce crime is only as good as how it used and maintained. Perhaps the SAPS could learn a thing or two from the South Wales Police who use technology that allows them to upload images of persons of interest and compare them against 500 000 custody images to see if there is a  possible match. The cameras that capture these images are placed in fixed positions around the city or on top of vehicles.

The technology has built in checks and balances to ensure the citizens’ privacy isn’t invaded, although it might be a little too late for that. Airports around the world have already invested in this type of technology to help identify persons of interest in their attempt to combat terrorist attacks.

Facial recognition technology is capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. It is typically used in security systems and can be compared to other biometrics such as fingerprint or eye iris recognition systems.

Although the internet technology isn’t as good, apps like Google Image Search allow you to search for something or someone using an image. One just has to look at the facial filters on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram to see that facial recognition technology is here to stay and this is only the beginning. Even Apple’s iPhone X uses Face ID as a biometric authentication successor to Touch ID, the fingerprint based system.

  AUTHOR
Antonette Keyter
Reporter

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