Does Facial Recognition Technology Reduce Crime

Facial recognition software uses biometrics to map out facial features from an image or video to identify human faces.

It creates a database of multiple pictures and facial features to find relevant matches. The technology is most commonly cornering the mobile phone market, unlocking features and photo organization on cell phones. For example, most android phones will automatically categorize photographs into like images (or collections of individual people).

How does Facial Recognition Technology work within a retail setting?

When applied to a retail or commercial setting, this recognition software has a wide array of applications. Retailers who have struggled with shoplifters can begin identifying and preventing entry to previous offenders as they enter the store. Likewise, individuals that have disturbed events or concerts at venues can be barred from re-entering events at a later date. Those with a prior criminal history of fraud or theft can be closely monitored at banks or financial institutions, limiting their access to both public funds or personal accounts. It rebuilds the security from a commercial setting and adds a level of protection from loss, injury, or threat.

Facial Recognition

How would facial recognition technology be established?

Initially, retailers or commercial dealers would need to purchase and install cameras throughout their establishment. Ideally, this would occur at the entrances before entering the facility. These cameras would need to be angled for optimal retrieval, preferably at eye level. Likewise, lighting conditions need to ensure that all photographs are clear and without obstruction. From there, matching, the process used by computers and software, is done instantaneously. Individuals enter the store as the programs simultaneously photograph at the entrances. The software pulls biometric markers, those unique features you have on your face or upper torso, and compares them to previous individuals in their database.

If a match is received, a detection notice will alert security to potential matches. Security officers can monitor the individual closely, remove the individual from the premises, or contact local authorities for apprehension if needed. It isn’t the software itself that prevents crime from reoccurring; it’s the ability to alert security to potential recurrence that reduces crime overall.

What industries can benefit from facial recognition?

Most retail or commercial settings could greatly benefit from this software, from casinos and financial institutions to retailers hoping to minimize theft or shortfalls. With many current security systems offering to monitor, it’s often too late when the individual has been allowed reentrance into the facility. With biometric monitoring, prevention happens at attempted entry, in real-time.

How can we use biometric software as a crime prevention method?

Essentially, the database created at an individual location will offer real-time results for past issues and provide valuable analytics. If victimization continuously occurs in a specific area, at a particular time, the monitoring software will show that in the report. Likewise, after apprehension, these images can be linked to identifying information like name, address, past occurrences, and the future entry status.

A background check on these individuals can indicate the criminal histories (including prior convictions, misdemeanors, and felonies so that individual decisions can be educated and informed. For example, an individual who shoplifts from a retail location and has no prior criminal history may have made an isolated impulsive decision. As such, management may allow re-entry at a later date but closely monitor the situation. On the other hand, a person with multiple prior convictions of theft suggests intent. In this case, management may opt to remove the person from the store permanently.


What biometric markers are used in monitoring?

Generally speaking, hundreds, if not thousands, of biometric markers can be used to identify and separate individuals. With 3D making software, individuals are given a rendering as opposed to a flat image. This rendering application means that any biological marker like eye distance, hair color, freckles or skin blemishes, scars, or unique markings like tattoos are always documented and compared against the database. Many markers that do record can implement rendering based on visible biometrics. Scarves and masks may limit the connection between real-time results and the database but can ultimately still track which person is entering the location.

What about privacy concerns with the software?

Many consumers feel the software is “big brother,” like consistent tracking and monitoring of entrance to the store. Likewise, when used against a more extensive database, many believe the software infringes upon the freedoms they’ve taken for granted. After all, barring individuals from larger chains of commercial locations (like Walmart, for instance) can significantly limit shopping or purchasing decisions. From a commercial standpoint, the decision to commit a crime at the site (such as theft or assault) should be an individual one with consequences. A business should be allowed to remove or prohibit troublesome individuals from entering their locations. Compiled images are used in helping law enforcement agencies, mainly as they try to track down fleeing suspects.

Are there any limitations to facial recognition software?

While the biometric markers are decent within the software, there will always be certain levels of limitations when it comes to implementing such a program. Obstructions to the face, such as scarves, glasses, or masks, can falsely identify individuals easier than intentionally designed. Additionally, there may be situations of wrongfully identifying someone (such as a twin or sibling). In these cases, attempting to navigate the environment needs to be done with caution instead of force. Similarly, the images recorded are only as good as the camera angle and database images. It’s essential to keep the camera discreet and at an angle that captures most facial photos. With many juvenile records barred from reporting in background checks, it’s important to understand the history provided may not offer a clear picture.

Facial Recognition Software Offers Proven Results for Commercial Industries

With an average of $30 billion lost annually, facial recognition software can add additional security measures to limit these statistics. Additionally, escalation within the criminal realm accounts for nearly 365 deaths a year. That’s one life lost daily in the retail world due to illegal activity. With the ability to track and reduce crime, biometric monitoring may be the way of the future for both personal use and business implementation. Those businesses using facial recognition software have noted a 20% reduction in loss over time. It’s also reduced crime related to retail activity by 91%. These numbers are not small reductions. They are numbers that shouldn’t be ignored as we move forward in the commercial industry.

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