Friday, November 30, 2018

What Tragedy Can Teach Us About the Benefit of Facial Recognition



Last month, Las Vegas marked one year since the tragic and unforgettable mass shooting that targeted an enormous country music festival and became the deadliest in modern US history. On Sunday, October 1, 2017, gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. A massive 58 people were killed, including 36 women and 22 men.  Another 851 were injured, both by gunfire and during the panic that resulted in the crowded space on the Las Vegas Strip, even though the shooting occurred in a short ten-minute span, from 10:05 to 10:15 PDT.

Paddock, a 64-year-old who was once an auditor and real estate businessman, had little interaction with law enforcement, except for traffic citations. He was, reportedly, a heavy drinker and a solitary soul who, as a high-stakes gambler, placed bets at a high enough level to generate free benefits such as rooms and meals. He had lost a significant amount of his wealth in the two years leading to the tragedy, due to his familiarity with casinos in Las Vegas. His exploits and his background quickly became the stuff of Twitter tweets and Instagram and Facebook posts and was widely proliferated, even without the assistance of an engagement service like Social Gone Viral.

What can the Las Vegas tragedy teach us?

Such tragedies have, unfortunately, become more commonplace than we might like to admit. The question is, in the absence of changes to gun control regulations, are there alternative solutions to thwarting potential acts of domestic terrorism and large-scale safety threats? Is there a way that governmental agencies can immediately assess and subsequently respond to potential issues? What if surveillance efforts at large-scale events were made safer and easier through the use of intelligent image searches and facial recognition software that allow for improved safety measures?

From sporting events to casino surveillance, from entering a music event to crossing the threshold of a hotel, biometric analysis can recognize distinct faces in a crowd and help law enforcement identify suspect individuals as soon as they enter an area or a building. Utilizing the expertise of artificial intelligence designers and security specialists, technology is allowing a one-to-many facial recognition process that will provide consistent, on-demand, and real-time service to governments, law enforcement agencies, and others.

Not only can facial recognition software help prevent catastrophic events, but it may also help investigators catch criminals after the fact.  As the use of facial recognition software becomes more prevalent, the hope is that potential criminals, knowing that the chances of getting away with it are becoming more and more limited, won’t attempt any wrongdoing in the first place. But even if a tragedy occurs, a facial recognition system can save law enforcement countless hours of manual video and comparative analysis. It can capture and evaluate as many as 100 facial profiles in a single image, speeding up investigatory procedures. These facts indicate that artificial intelligence is easily leveraged for both governmental and security needs.

Where might facial recognition be used?

Facial recognition technology is more common than many realize and when used widely and wisely, it is capable of protecting innocent individuals and deterring would-be criminals. Banks, for example, could easily benefit from the implementation of cameras in physical locations that would allow investigators to apprehend criminals if robberies occur and to discourage them.

Facial recognition can also be used online in a mobile banking capacity, allowing transactions to be secured at a glance rather than through a more traditional format. In this way, imposters attempting to access consumer accounts or assume someone else’s identity will be unable to complete fraudulent transactions, even if they have the customer’s credentials such as account numbers or passwords or PINs. The analysis systems will scan faces, turn them into a code, and determine the validity of a person’s identity based on factors such as eye shape, eye width, jaw shape and size, and nose position.

Casinos, too, have found value in the use of facial recognition software. In places where significant amounts of money exchange hands and flow easily, criminals can be found en masse. In gambling cities like Las Vegas where criminals like Stephen Paddock lurk, Casino.org reports that many types of crimes, including burglary, robbery, assault, arson, and murder are prevalent. Traditional cameras may capture some events, but facial recognition software can help detect individuals who have cheated casinos before or who frequent them regularly. Installing systems in areas like these can deter crimes like theft or assault if criminals are aware that they are more likely to be caught- not only on tape that can be analyzed manually but by the use of sophisticated software that examines and evaluates hundreds of faces quickly and easily.

Do you feel that such tragedies warrant the use of facial recognition software in public places? Share your opinion here.

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