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Making the adoption of facial recognition tech easier

A few weeks back NE commented on the police and their use of facial recognition software to search for suspected criminals in the light of findings from academics that found that matches were only correct in one in five of cases and the system was likely to break human rights laws.

Police forces are facing increasing cost pressures, with direct government funding having fallen 30% in the last 8 years and have been turning to facial recognition as a way to increase efficiency whilst cutting costs.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, has said that facial recognition is ‘very useful’ within law enforcement and that the technology needs to make its way towards public acceptance or Britain risks being ‘really, really, really left behind.’

Jason Tooley, board member of techUK and Chief Revenue Officer at Veridium, believes that the police force would benefit from biometrics by adopting a more holistic, open approach to the technology as, according to Tooley, the issue isn’t so much the technology as having more to do with public perception and education.

“Public perception of the maturity of biometrics such as automated facial recognition and their effective usage has strong links back to existing physical processes and public adoption. Fingerprint technology has high levels of consumer adoption due to use on mobile devices, and use cases such as airports using flatbed scanners, which is also widely understood and helps immensely with acceptance,” according to Jason.

There certainly is a need to focus on biometric technology as it matures, so it can not only better support identity verification at scale but also gain nationwide public acceptance.

Tooley believes that it is imperative for, ”police forces to take a strategic approach as they trial biometric technologies, and not solely focus on a single biometric approach. This open multifactor approach will strengthen evidence and decrease the risk of wrongful arrests.”

This should alleviate human rights concerns, according to Tooley, but could also reassure the public that the technology is assisting in crime solving and not just merely being used as surveillance.

“An open biometric strategy that delivers the ability for the police to use the right biometric techniques for the right requirements will accelerate the benefits associated with digital policing and achieve public acceptance by linking the strategy to ease of adoption. Instead of only using facial recognition perhaps for a single reason, the police should ensure they have strategically assessed which is the right biometric technique, for the right use case, based on the scenario.”

“Another issue which has come to the forefront, since the revelation that facial recognition as a standalone piece of evidence only correctly identified one in five suspects, is that the public’s expectation is that results should be 100% accurate, as they are used to facial recognition technology on their phones and at airports for which the results are generally good."

That's unrealistic, according to Tooley.

To be successful, it appears that the key is to digitalise the process, is to use technology already embraced by consumers, and make the application simpler and easier to use.

Neil Tyler

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