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Five Serious Criminals Arrested in Rio Shopping Mall in the First Weeks of Use of a Cloud Face Recognition System

newsrelease

 

Allevate’s Face-Searcher Cloud Service, built on Tygart Technology Inc’s MXSERVER™, is helping catch criminals in Brazil.  

 

 

LONDON, UK and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 5th October 2017:

UK-based Facewatch and The Staff Security in Brazil have reported significant success with BRMalls, one of the largest shopping mall chains in South America and an early adaptor user of their online crime reporting service integrated with Allevate’s Face-Searcher.

BRMall’s Security Manager Jesse Barbosa, having used the integrated system in their flagship mall in Rio de Janeiro since July, said that “… the identification of five criminals already has proved to us how effective it is in supporting our daily operations.”

In further comments Mr. Pampurre, head of Security for BRMalls, said the system “…is a crucial tool to support us in combatting criminality.”

H.C. Bambirra, CEO of The Staff Security, says “…we are ready to start our expansion program across Brazil…” in three major cities, including Sao Paulo. Their intention is to deploy the integrated system into thousands of locations.

Face-Searcher is built on the industry-proven MXSERVERTM from Tygart Technology, Inc and incorporates state-of-the-art biometric algorithms from CyberExtruder. It enables organisations to utilise facial recognition as a hosted cloud service.

MXSERVERTM is an enterprise facial recognition cloud platform. It is the only biometric search engine on the market designed to handle Big Data (processing massive amounts of photos and videos) by leveraging a cloud-based architecture for faster parallel processing of services.  MXSERVERTM is proven and utilised by Defence, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organisations and has also been used to enhance security at major events, such as the 2015 European Games, a major international sporting event.

–ENDS

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com/, email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About Tygart Technology, Inc.

Tygart Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise-grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems. Tygart provides the U.S. Military, Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement markets with innovative software solutions that manage and automate the processing of massive volumes of digital video and photograph collections.

Visit us at http://www.tygart.com/ or call 1-304-363-6855.

About CyberExtruder

CyberExtruder develops facial recognition technology for a broad spectrum of real-world, government and commercial applications worldwide. Designed for OEM’s, integrators and end-users, CyberExtruder’s proprietary 3D face modelling technology mitigates the challenges of pose, lighting, and expression. A convolutional neural network enhances the ability to train algorithms and deliver ever-increasing performance.

Visit http://cyberextruder.com/ for more information.


London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley Discusses the Current Threat from Terrorism

During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on Friday, 11 August, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, head of National Counter Terrorism Policing, discusses the current threat from terrorism and how this has changed in scale and nature in the past six months.

The full transcript can be found on the London Metropolitan Police Website.

I thought it was an excellent interview when I heard it on the radio; glad to see the transcript.

This challenge will not be met by simply doing more of what has been done. It requires a change of paradigm, re-organisation and the targeted application of technology to enable the experts to do what they are good at, faster and better. All of which are likely to be already underway.

The bits that stand out to me:

1. “there are around 500 active counter-terrorism investigations involving some 3,000 subjects of interest…the numbers are currently growing”

2. “Just to keep on person under surveillance requires a dozen, or even 20 police officers 24-hours a day”

3. “The challenge is how good is our radar at spotting the ripples in the pond further out”

4. “… there are issues about both our systems and how we can improve how we work together and how we connect across the country.”

5. “…this widening cohort of people that we’re concerned about – and I mentioned 3,000 and 20,000 – our ability to keep our radar on them, that’s no longer just a job for police and police and security services … it’s going to take a whole community effect”


Article: Helping to Counter the Terrorist Threat using Face Recognition   Recently updated !

Forensic Media Analysis Integrated with Live Surveillance Matching

You can download a PDF copy of this article by clicking this link.

 

Against the backdrop of budget constraints, threats from terrorism, organised crime and public disorder continue to rise. Authorities can remain resilient through the targeted application of technology. Advances in face recognition coupled with the mass availability of digital media and continuously cheaper computing provides unique opportunities to enhance the efficiency of forensic investigations to enhance public safety. Processing of digital media can be automated in a virtualised and elastic computing environment to identify and extract actionable intelligence. Processing is scalable, continuous, consistent and predictable. Analysts can focus on investigating and confirming suggested results rather than watching countless hours of media in the hope of stumbling across intelligence. Such a centralised platform can also be used to search in near real-time faces from any number of remote cameras against centralised watchlists of individuals of interest.

1. A Need for Enhanced Safety and Operational Efficiency

Risks are increasing. Recent events demonstrate that the threat landscape is substantial and becoming more fragmented, consisting of a greater number of smaller and less sophisticated plots. The targeted application of technology can play a key role in improving the efficiency of our police and intelligence agencies and maintaining readiness to both disrupt and respond to major events.

2. A Relentless Increase in Digital Media

The increase in media is relentless. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have amassed large collections of video and photographic information from multiple sources such as:

  • Digital Forensics (confiscated phones, computers, flash drives etc).
  • Open Source Intelligence (Internet and Dark Web).
  • Crowd- sourced from members of the public (HD cameras on mobile phones are ubiquitous).
  • Police Body Worn Video.

When tragic events or social disorder occur, investigators have a long and arduous task of reviewing countless hours of media, generally with a varying degree of concentration and scrutiny.

A solution that minimises manual effort in the extraction of actionable intelligence from amassed media by automating this process with a consistent and repeatable level of scrutinywill deliver concise and consistent information in a fraction of the time taken by operators undertaking the task manually.

3. An Automated Media Processing and Exploitation Solution

Police, intelligence and other public order agencies can benefit from the application of a powerful media processing solution designed to ingest, analyse and index, in an automated fashion, very large quantities of media from multiple sources to transform them into usable assets. Utilising virtualised and elastic computing environments enables the platform to be rapidly scaled up and down in response to unfolding events.

Once processed, agencies can analyse and make use of the extracted assets and manage them in a centralised repository of information. Data links, associations and metadata inferences can be managed across the whole dataset by multiple users from a single common user interface. Backend processing services are run in a cloud-computing environment, the capacity of which can be configured and incrementally scaled up and down to meet an organisation’s changing demands; peaks arising from specific events can be easily accommodated.

Features include:

  • Automatically find, extract and index faces to enable biometric and biographic searching of media.
  • Create and manage watchlists of people of interest.
  • Find and cross-reference all media instances in which a person of interest has been seen.
  • Identify, locate, and track persons of interest, their associates and their activities across all media.
  • Discover, document and view links between people of interest, their activities and networks.
  • Use of metadata (including geo data) to enhance investigations and association of data.
  • Integration into existing system environments, databases and components.

3.1  Incorporating Other Detection Capabilities

In addition to face recognition, other detection engines can be incorporated, such as:

  • Biographic filtering and Fuzzy Match capability.
  • Automatic Number Plate Recognition. (ANPR)
  • Voice Biometrics.
  • Object / Logo Recognition.

Vendor independence allows the use best-of-breed algorithms. Newer and better algorithms (COTS and GOTS) can be plugged in without having to replace the entire platform.

3.2  Working with Geo-Location Data

An increasing amount of media is captured on devices affixed with location determining technology. Often, this geo-location data is incorporated into the media metadata, thereby providing potential to further enhance the analysis of media. Geo-location can be used to:

  • Compartmentalise and refine analysis by location of media creation.
  • Overlay location of proposed matches onto maps.
  • Chart movements of individuals of interest by location and time of sightings.
  • Link individuals at the same location and time even if they do not appear together in media.

3.3  Architecture and Integration with Existing Systems

In addition to utilising COTS components, open standards and cloud-computing architecture to enable massive scalability, a well delineated scope of functionality and open API enables:

  • Flexibility in customisation and integration with existing systems and workflows.
  • Well-defined mechanisms of loading data and automating ingestion of media.
  • Dynamic alteration and sharing of watchlists, media, system-generated results and operator analysis.

3.4  Hosting, Cloud and Virtualisation Options

Full architectural flexibility enables flexibility of hosting options. Organisations can elect to:

  • Take advantage of IaaS and SaaS options on public sector hosting offerings.
  • Fully self-host the solution on private and secure premises and datacentres.
  • Deploy in a hybrid manner.

Indeed, managed AWS or Azure offerings can be utilised to bulk process media, utilising non-return gateways to propagate identified sensitive data to more secure facilities.

3.5  Working Hand-in-Glove with Trained Forensic Investigators

Humans will always remain the critical and essential part of intelligence analysis; such solutions do not replace the intricate skills and knowledge of trained investigators. Rather, the operator is enabled to intelligently direct and apply their training at suggested results, eliminating the necessity of rote viewing of countless hours of media either in a sequential our random fashion.

Integration of enhanced verification, charting and mapping tools enables operators to conduct detailed analysis of suggested matches and identifications.

 

4 Potential Use Cases

There are multiple applications of a solution as described herein within military, law enforcement, intelligence and public-site security agencies. These are summarised into four broad categories:

4.1  Time Critical Investigations, Media of Critical Importance

Often, authorities need to quickly process evidence to identify and apprehend individuals. The scale of the investigation can be huge and the amount of media that needs to be processed massive.

The media acquired in these instances can be of such critical importance that the authorities may choose to review it all in its entirety. However, immediate and decisive action is critical. Rather than sifting through the media in a random or sequential fashion, a media analysis solution can quickly direct the investigators to portions of the media that are most likely to deliver immediate results. Full review of the media can be conducted afterwards.

4.2  Bulk Ingestion of Media Arising from Criminal Investigations

During routine operations or investigations, authorities may recover significant quantities of media from multiple sources that need to be processed to further the investigation or to assist in building an evidence base for prosecution. Examples include:

  • Military or counter-terror officers raiding terrorist facilities.
  • Specialist organised crime investigators raiding organised crime offices.
  • Child protection officers raiding premises of individuals or organisations involved in child exploitation.

Automating processing provides investigating officers an overall summary of the contents including focus areas for further investigation.

4.3  Continuous Background Processing of Media Sources

Authorities may as a matter of routine have access to masses of media which may contain actionable intelligence, but typically would never be viewed or processed due to a lack of resource. Intelligence in this media may be missed entirely and never acted upon.

This media can now be bulk ingested and processed in an automated fashion to flag relevant intelligence, using operator controlled criteria, to the authorities as required for follow-up processing.

  • Routine and automated processing of accessible media can flag actionable intelligence that may help disrupt future attacks.

4.4  Near Real-Time Watchlist Checking from Live Surveillance Cameras

By integrating any number of remote surveillance cameras to such a centralised matching platform eliminates the need to install and maintain costly local software and hardware to perform local face matching as well as the need to store potentially secure watchlist data locally at the camera locations. The problems associated with live streaming of HD media over low bandwidth network connections is resolved through the application of local face-detection and cropping; only small image files of cropped faces need be sent to the central data centre over encrypted channels.

4.4.1        Centralised Archive of “Seen Faces”

In addition to submitting search probes to the server for searching against one or more watchlists, search probes can be enrolled in a “seen faces” archive which can be interactively or automatically searched (using face recognition) by investigators or when submitting videos for processing.

5 A Compelling Business Case

The solution can be made available using a compelling SaaS model. The open and standard nature of the solution ensures it can run in existing on-premise datacentres or outsourced to secure hosting partners.

Whilst the human operator is an essential part of intelligence analysis, an entry-level system empowers the analyst to process up to an order-of-magnitude more media on a daily basis. This enables trained operators to apply their expertise in a more focussed manner than manually watching hour upon hour of media.

Efficiency is dramatically boosted by bulk processing media 24×7 at a constant and predictable level of focus and accuracy: operational staff can focus on analysing results.

 

6 Summary

Security concerns are increasing whilst budgets are limited. The focussed application of technology can improve efficiency and aid law enforcement agencies to rise to this challenge.  The massive increase in the creation of digital media and the availability of cheap computing provides authorities with the ability to bulk ingest and process media in an automated fashion. Results are continuous and predictable. Trained analysts can now focus their skills on investigating suggested results and on intelligence extracted by automated systems. Not only does this provide the ability to process critical media even faster than ever before to respond to time critical investigations, but it also enables authorities to extract intelligence from media sources that in the past may never even have been looked at because of the significant resource this previously would have entailed. The same centralised platform can also be used to search in near real-time faces from any number of remote cameras against centralised watchlists of individuals of interest.


On the BBC Newsnight Report on Terrorism and Face Recognition

Richard Watson’s report on the 20th July edition of BBC Newsnight on the threat of terrorism and and the potential use of face recognition to combat it was informative, balanced and effectively presented the scale of the challenges faced, as well as the challenges in any potential use of the technology.

It’s important to realise that face recognition is not a panacea. But it is an effective tool that can drastically improve the efficiency of our intelligence and police agencies.

 

The figure cited of 40 officers to trail one suspect full time over 20 hours is not off the mark. Ex Chief Constable of the British Transport Police Andrew Trotter neatly summed it when he said “It is a huge labour intensive. Huge, and these people may do nothing for months, years. … And all the time there might be others that needed more attention. That diverts resources from other things…”.

Products such as the one demonstrated by Zak Doffman of Digital Barriers present an excellent example of technology available and typical and effective uses of them. However, Roger Cumming hit the nail on the head when he said “If an alarm is rung through your camera system picking up one of these people, what do you actually do? Because at that state all you’ve got is a positive identification of somebody on a watchlist? Do they represent a threat? Are the planning some sort of attack? Or are they just going about their business?…”.

The use of the technology in itself will pose new challenges.

The demonstrated solution is just one of many that can effectively perform live watchlist alerting on surveillance cameras to positive effect. But I don’t believe this use of face recognition alone represents the greatest benefit to police, and may not sufficiently improve efficiency to warrant the cost and generate a return on the investment.

It is likely that after each of the terrorists attacks in recent months, there was a substantial quantity of video evidence that needed to be manually reviewed at great use of resource. A significant challenge faced by police is the effective and efficient extraction and linking of intelligence from all of this media which can come from multiple sources, including CCTV, body worn video, members of the public, the Internet, the dark Web, news broadcasts and digital forensics (confiscated computers, phones, drives etc).

This represents a phenomenal Big Data challenge which is becoming increasingly solvable with the increasing availability of on-demand and elastic cloud computing paradigms. If we can rapidly process this media (at much greater speed than real time) and extract assets using face recognition and other detection technologies for presentation to reviewing investigators, this will significantly reduce the amount of time they need to laboriously watch it themselves, whilst increasing the intelligence they obtain from it, enabling them to rapidly “connect the dots”.

More actionable and linked intelligence, obtained quicker and cheaper. This can feed the watchlists the live surveillance cameras are searching in an integrated fashion off the same platform.

And perhaps just as importantly, introduce efficiency to feed a business case to help ensure the technology can be feasibly adopted.

You can watch the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk25


On the Recent Terror Attack in Manchester

Following the horrendous events in Manchester, our thoughts are foremost with those who have lost friends and family members and with those who will be struggling to recover from unimaginable physical, emotional and mental trauma.

It is increasingly clear that these are no longer isolated events and we must unfortunately brace ourselves to the fact that they may be becoming the new norm in our society, at least for the foreseeable future.

We must also remind ourselves that, unlike in other parts of the world where such atrocities are a daily occurrence, they are still remarkably rare here. Indeed, this week is only the third time the UK Threat Level has been raised to CRITICAL, the first being in 2006 and the second in the following year.

However, this time the UK’s security chiefs feel they have no choice other than to say another attack may be imminent. Nobody at this stage can say for sure whether the suicide bomber Salman Abedi acted alone or with the help of others.

Countering this threat environment is a hugely complicated and multi-faceted endeavour. Perhaps the most important and longest term (and consequently most difficult) element is the geopolitical: harmonising and reducing friction between culturally and religiously diverse societies, embracing this diversity and rejecting isolationism and xenophobia. Here we must trust our politicians and our voice is through the ballot box. This implies, however, an absolute responsibility as individuals to constantly embrace learning and tolerance of the world we live in so we can best instruct those we elect to high office.

Within the near to medium term of our current world reality, defining the appropriate domestic strategy and links with those of our key allies in the fight against extremism is essential. The four pillars of the UK’s Counter Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST) demonstrates a sound awareness of the complexity this entails and they deploy a range of short to long term tactics:

  • PREVENT           to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism in the first place.
  • PURSUE         to stop terrorist attacks by detecting, prosecuting and otherwise disrupting those who plot to carry out attacks.
  • PROTECT           to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack and reduce our vulnerability.
  • PREPARE           to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack where that attack cannot be stopped.

The effectiveness of PURSUE has been demonstrated multiple times in recent history and notably with plot-disrupting arrests in just the past few weeks. We should all be immensely proud and thankful of our security and public services. The reality, though, is that as the threat landscape becomes more fragmented and complicated, consisting of a greater number of smaller and less sophisticated plots feeding off the radicalisation of disenfranchised individuals, it becomes more and more difficult to identify and stop every attack. The importance of PREVENT has been horrendously demonstrated in the past few days and with the recent attack on Westminster Bridge.

The nature of this most recent attack, disturbingly, demonstrates the hallmarks of a more complex and orchestrated suite of activities likely conducted by multiple individuals supporting Abedi. This has predicated the Prime Minister’s decision to elevate the threat level to its highest level. The challenges faced by the police and security services in identifying and apprehending these individuals at such times, when rapidness and timeliness of response is of the essence, are vast.

This investigation is unfolding rapidly, with multiple arrests already being made. The well-rehearsed procedures and tools acquired through years of experience are paying dividends. It is also apparent that, at times such as these, any method or technique to assist over-stretched human resources conduct their activities more efficiently and more rapidly must be considered and welcomed. New and advancing technologies undoubtedly have a role to play and will help shape our ability to both prevent and respond to these threats.

We must not allow the events of the past week to shape or define us. Although of no condolence to those directly affected by these events, we must remain grateful that we live in one of the safest and freest societies in the world. Clearly, we must foster an environment where such extreme beliefs are not allowed to take hold and root them out where and when they do. But, as individuals, we must espouse and remain true to the values that have enabled our society in the first place. Openness, tolerance and above all knowledge of the world, its peoples, cultures and societies will always persevere over ignorance, isolationism, fear and hatred.

Our deepest and most sincere condolences to those who have suffered and lost this week; we cannot even begin to imagine your suffering.

Our utmost gratitude and respect to our public services, police and security services, who fight so tirelessly and put themselves at direct risk to keep us safe.


Allevate Announces Continued Availability of MXSERVER on UK Crown Commercial Service Digital Marketplace (G-Cloud)

newsreleasePowerful Cloud-Enabled Video and Photographic Forensic Analysis System Incorporating Face Recognition is available to all UK government, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to assist in combatting crime and terrorist activities. MXSERVER automates the bulk-processing of media for forensic analysis and is already proven by US Federal agencies to provide an “Order of Magnitude” efficiency gain and significantly enhanced identification of suspects.

LONDON, UK 23 May 2017:  Allevate today announces the continued availability of MXSERVER on the UK Crown Commercial Service’s Digital Marketplace G-Cloud 9 Framework.  Allevate’s SaaS G-Cloud offering is enabled by Sungard Availability Services, who provides a Secure Managed Cloud IaaS and PaaS platform, with OFFICIAL classification, for UK Government Service Provision.

The below is extracted from our announcement of availability on G-Cloud 8.

Our security services are faced with a relentless increase in digital media — from CCTV and surveillance cameras, police body worn video, online sources such as Facebook and YouTube, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, ‘crowd-sourced’ from members of the public. There has been no easy and cost-effective way to access the intelligence this media contains. Experienced and expensive human capital has been assigned the rote task of watching countless hours of video in the hope of finding useful information.

MXSERVER, from Tygart Technology, processes vast amounts of textual, video and photo collections quickly – automatically discovering, grouping and extracting segments depicting people. Using face recognition technology, this solution searches media archives to find other assets which depict individuals of interest. It also indexes the digital media to enable it to be efficiently searched using a photograph of a face, previewed and analysed via an intuitive web-based user interface. Results become available in minutes rather than hours or days because the digital media files are processed in parallel over a distributed cloud-architecture.

Allevate emphasizes that “MXSERVER delivers a Big Data solution for law-enforcement’s growing video and photo assets. It provides a significantly enhanced identification capability that is quicker and more efficient than manually watching video. “

From today, access to both the software and all hosting and storage services are available on Digital Services Marketplace G-Cloud 8 framework using an easy to calculate monthly service fee. The G-Cloud catalogue is open to all public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive IdentificationCrown-Commercial-Service-Supplier_logo
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About the UK Crown Commercial Service

The UK Crown Commercial Service (CCS) works with both departments and organisations across the whole of the public sector to ensure maximum value is extracted from every commercial relationship and improve the quality of service delivery. The CCS goal is to become the “go-to” place for expert commercial and procurement services.


CyberExtruder Announces the Release of Aureus 3D Version 5

Allevate is pleased to be cooperating with CyberExtruder who have just announced the release of Aureus 3D Version 5.7, which achieves product performance at speeds unprecedented in the industry.

CyberExtruder says “With our 128-byte face template size – the smallest in the industry – we can perform matching on a database of 7.5 billion people (the world population) in 4.69 seconds. With speeds at this level coupled with superior accuracy and scalability, Aureus 3D Version 5.7 will change the industry. There’s nothing of its kind anywhere.”

 


Allevate Quoted in a BBC News Article on Face Recognition

Allevate’s founder is quoted in an article by Mark Smith, entitled “Smile, you’re on camera, and it knows who you are“.

Carl Gohringer, founder and director at Allevate, a facial recognition firm that works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies, says: “The amount of media – such as videos and photos – available to us as individuals, organisations and businesses, and to intelligence and law enforcement agencies, is staggering.

“We’re well beyond the point where all of it is usable or viewable by us as human beings. So technology will be applied that results in new and interesting mechanisms of accessing, analysing, ordering, structuring and processing this visual minefield.”


Happy New Year. A Brief Update from Allevate. See us at Intersec in Dubai

2017 is now well underway so I wanted to take a moment and wish everybody a Happy New Year and provide a brief update.

Face-Searcher launched with Facewatch in Brazil

After having jointly launched Allevate’s new Face-Searcher Face Recognition  as a Service in Brazil last year in partnership with Facewatch, we are very pleased and excited by the uptake of the service that we have been seeing so far.

Upcoming Face-Searcher launch in the UK

Having initially launched our service successfully overseas, we are now working very hard to negotiate hosting agreements with a strategic hosting partner and we will be looking to launch the Face-Searcher service, integrated with Facewatch, in the UK in the near future as a SaaS cloud-service to businesses and organisations.

We already have some notable organisations scheduled to trial our service in the coming weeks who who are looking to enhance the security and improve the safety of crowded places they manage.

If your organisation would like a very easy-to-setup trial, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Seeking International Distributors and Partners

We are strategically seeking to roll-out our integrated SaaS cloud-hosted online crime reporting and face recognition service globally in targeted countries.

We are actively seek organisations to partner with us to enable them to offer our service within their countries. Please contact us to find out more.

Successful Participation Securing Crowded Places Immersive Demonstrator at UK Security Expo

We were very pleased to have participated in the Home Office’s Crowded Places Demonstrator at UK Security Expo at the end of last year. Thank you to very much to our partners Facewatch and Physical Tracking Systems for their support and an extra large thank you to Sungard Availability Systems for their full support in enabling our participation.

See you at Intersec Dubai Next Week, 22-24 January

Allevate is very pleased to be attending Intersec, the world’s leading trade fair for Security, Safety and Fire Protection, in Dubai next week where we have a multiple meetings scheduled with potential clients and partners throughout the Middle East Region.

If you are interested in meeting with us next week in Dubai to discuss how you may benefit from the use of Allevate’s offerings, or to discuss possible partnership and potential to collaborate in the region, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you once again and I look forward to speaking with many of you in 2017.


The Rise of Anti-Surveillance Clothing

There has been increasing press coverage pertaining to developments of anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition, such as this recent article in the Guardian: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition.

 

 

The real issue with regards to the continuous development of anti-surveillance paraphernalia and the ability of technology suppliers to circumvent it is not an issue of technology, but rather a social one. Advocates and opponents will continuously be leap-frogging each other with their ability to detect and to counter.

What we should be focusing on is understanding the reason for dissent and working together as a society to develop an ethical and moral code of conduct. Innocent people rightly have an expectation of privacy and do not want to be followed, tracked or traced. We’re often asked “Why do you care what I’m doing? Or where I’m going? Or what I’m doing?” And the answer, simply, is “We don’t.”

At Allevate, together with our partners Facewatch, our goal, our self-directed mandate, is to improve and better society. To create safe places for people to gather, to minimise the threat of crime and attack and to aid the authorities in identifying and apprehending those that seek to do the opposite.

However, like many technologies, there is the potential for face recognition technology to serve multiple purposes. In our experience, society does not object to safe-guarding our children, reducing crime and the threat of terrorist attack and making our world a safer place. The objections arise when it is the law-abiding citizen being identified for the commercial gain of somebody else, without their consent.

Yes, we will continue to develop mechanisms to ensure we accurately identify people, but the real solution is dialogue. Open and honest. If all non-security applications of such technology are transparent and driven by opt-in and consent, then perhaps the only people that will be trying to reduce its effectiveness are the criminals, which will only serve to make them stand out even more.

You can read more on Allevate’s views on this subject in this whitepaper: Face Recognition: Profit, Ethics and Privacy.


Combatting Crime and Protecting Crowded Places. Face Recognition in the Cloud Demonstrated at UK Security Expo 2016 in London.

 

newsreleaseAllevate’s Cloud-hosted Face-Searcher face recognition service integrated with Facewatch’s digital crime reporting system to feature in UK Security Expo’s Securing Crowded Places Immersive Demonstrator. Nationally available in Brazil, UK launch imminent.

 

LONDON, UK 25th November 2016: Allevate and Facewatch today announce that Allevate’s Face-Searcher, a cloud-hosted face recognition service integrated with Facewatch’s online crime reporting system, will feature in the Securing Crowed Places Immersive Demonstrator at the UK Security Expo on the 30th November and 1st December 2016 at Olympia, London. After its successful Brazilian launch, the integrated offering is now due for imminent launch in the UK.

The Immersive Demonstrator at UK Security Expo 2016 will be under the theme of ‘Securing Crowded Places’ and is being run in association with The Home Office JSaRC, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and other relevant Government Departments.

Allevate’s Face-Searcher service enables organisations to utilise facial recognition as a hosted cloud service. It requires minimal capital outlay, incorporates advanced, world-class face recognition technology and eliminates the need to install or maintain a complicated software infrastructure or related compute platform on clients’ premises.

Facewatch enables organisations to report crimes online and submit moving and still CCTV images as evidence to the police, as well as share this imagery between businesses in related subscribed groups (in compliance with Data Protection guidelines) to reduce crime.

Following an imminent UK launch, UK Facewatch subscribers will be able to instantly and automatically share their images of Subjects of Interest to Face-Searcher’s watchlists, thereby allowing real-time watchlist alerting to any device connected to Facewatch’s integrated alert management system. This integrated offering will help businesses prevent crime by warning them if someone entering their premises is on a watchlist of known offenders.

Face-Searcher is built on the industry-proven enterprise-grade MXSERVERTM platform enabling automated facial detection and recognition, developed by Tygart Technology, Inc.

Additionally, Allevate will be providing a live demonstration of the MXSERVERTM platform in the Technology Workshops and Live Demonstrations in the conference stream of the exhibition, entitled “Beyond Live Surveillance: The Application of Face Recognition to Improve Forensic Analysis of Masses of Digital Media“, Day 2, 1st December, 2016 at 1240pm.

MXSERVERTM is also available on the UK’s Crown Commercial Service Digital Marketplace G-Cloud 8 Framework and is Powered by Sungard Availability Services.

Find out more on stand A41 at the exposition, in collaboration with Sungard Availability Services.


About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com, email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About Facewatch

Founded in London in 2010, Facewatch has worked with UK policing to create the world’s first private sector crime reporting platform that enables business and police to share information securely and instantly.

Visit us at http://www.facewatch.co.uk, email us at info@facewatch.co.uk, call us on +44 20 7930 3225 and follow us at @Facewatch.

About Tygart Technology, Inc.

Tygart Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise-grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems. Tygart provides the U.S. Military, Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement markets with innovative software solutions that manage and automate the processing of massive volumes of digital video and photograph collections.

Visit us at http://www.tygart.com or call 1-304-363-6855.


Allevate in the Securing Crowded Places Immersive Demonstrator at UK Security Expo

Allevate is pleased to participating with Sungard Availability Services in the Securing Crowed Places Immersive Demonstrator at the UK Security Expo on the 30th November and 1st December 2016 at Olympia, London.

The Immersive Demonstrator at UK Security Expo 2016 will be under the theme of ‘Securing Crowded Places’ run in association with The Home Office JSaRC, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and other relevant Government Departments.

Using the event venue itself as the place to be protected, the aim is to provide an integrated experience in which visitors are able to see innovative technologies and techniques in operation.  This will provide a realistic context as well as allowing discussion with Government and industry experts.

Allevate will be demonstrating real-world uses of Tygart’s MXSERVER to deploy watchlist detection using face recognition, and the application of face recognition to aide the post-event forensic analysis.

Allevate will be participating with our partners, Sungard Availability Services, Physical Tracking Systems, and Facewatchsungard

Additionally, Allevate’s founder Carl Gohringer will be providing a live demonstration of MXSERVER in the Technology Workshops and Live Demonstrations conference stream of the exhibition, entitled “Beyond Live Surveillance: The Application of Face Recognition to Improve Forensic Analysis of Masses of Digital Media”, Day 2, 1st December, 2016 at 1240pm.

We look forward to seeing you at the exhibition on stand A41 in collaboration with Sungard Availability Services.


Allevate Seeking Global Distributors and Agents for Face-Searcher Service

Allevate is actively seeking global distributors and agents for its new cloud-hosted Face-Searcher Service integrated with Facewatch’s secure online crime reporting service. The integrated offering enables businesses, public and police to tackle low-level crime by sharing images within groups and then utilise cloud-hosted face recognition to raise alerts back to the business.

Key Benefits:

  • No complicated software to install or maintain.
  • Enables businesses to collaborate with each other and the police by sharing imagery.
  • Integrated with the industry’s best biometric algorithms.
  • Affordable monthly service fee with no or minimal up-front capital expenditure.

 

Already launched in Brazil, the integrated service is available globally and we are now seeking both:

  • Leading security and surveillance organisations to act as a distribution channel.
  • Agents to manage and on-board distributors within specific geographic territories.

The Value to You

Our integrated offering supplies our distribution channel with an affordable, SaaS structured offering to augment your already successful and credible security and surveillance operation with a cloud-hosted and easy to maintain facial recognition service.

Coupled with your extensive experience in CCTV installation and configuration and control room and monitoring services, it adds further value that enables your customers to collaborate with each other and the police and to further enhance the security of their premises with face recognition.

 

If you are interested or to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact us here.

Download a datasheet on Face-Searcher here.

 

 

 


Allevate’s Face-Searcher in Action: Cloud-Enabled Face Recognition

A test-run of Allevate’s Face-Searcher service integrated with the online Facewatch crime reporting system:

  • A camera with a lightweight laptop in the UK
    • Detecting and cropping faces from the video stream
  • Submitting image files of cropped faces for ultra-scalable and accurate face matching in the Cloud in Amazon Web Services in USA.

… with

  • Watchlist data syncronised with a Facewatch test instance in Amazon Web Services in Brazil

… reporting

  • Alerts to the Facewatch test subscriber back in the UK, all in under 3 seconds from sighting of suspect.

Why?

  • Because we can, and to demonstrate the flexibility of our cloud-based matching system.

 

Available now in Brazil., hosted locally in Brazil.

Coming soon elsewhere.

 

Download the Face-Searcher datasheet here.

 

Face-Searcher with Facewatch


Allevate Cooperates with Civica UK Ltd to Help Enable their Digital Biometric Forensic Services Proposition on GCloud

 

Allevate is pleased to be co-operating with Civica UK Ltd.to help enable their service offering on the UK’s Crown Commercial Service Digital Marketplace G-Cloud 8.



Digital Biometric Forensic Services

A holistic service for the management and processing of Forensic Evidence and Records. Providing a central asset management hub and additional best of breed modules for fingerprint, photo and video analysis and face recognition software. Proven integration with third party applications and hosted in a compliant IL3 environment.

Features

  • Civica FileTrail Evidence and Asset Tracking software
  • FISH Forensic Image Scanning Hub
  • MXServer Face Recognition Software
  • Sungard IL3 Compliant Official Assured Zone Managed Cloud Services
  • Full end to end Digital Biometric Forensics Management
  • Complete Audit Trail and Reporting
  • Fully configurable Workflow Dashboards
  • Seamless integration
  • Best of breed applications and hosting
  • Single modular solution

Benefits

  • Fully configurable to meet a wide range of requirements
  • Significant reduction in staff inputting and processing time
  • Demonstrable return on investment
  • Automated barcode and RFID tracking
  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Faster detection of offenders
  • Extends an organisation’s intelligence base
  • Secure hosting with full Disaster Recovery
  • Relives the strain on existing IT infrastructure
  • Proven track record in this field

Cloud Face Recognition Integrated with Secure Online Crime Reporting Launched in Brasil

 

newsreleaseAllevate’s Cloud-Hosted Face-Searcher Face Recognition Service integrated with the Facewatch secure online crime reporting system is launched in Brasil. This integrated offering, to all organisations large or small, enables the provision of face recognition in the cloud, matching against data-sets created from real-time crime reporting.  

LONDON, UK and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 17 August 2016:  Allevate today announces the launch of its Face-Searcher service, enabling organisations, large or small, to utilise facial recognition as a hosted cloud service. Additionally, Facewatch, the secure online crime reporting system, announces immediate availability of an integrated Facewatch and Face-Searcher offering, launching initially in Brasil.

Facewatch enables organisations to report crimes online and submit moving and still CCTV images as evidence to the police, as well as share this imagery between businesses in related subscribed groups (in compliance with Data Protection guidelines) to reduce crime.

Allevate’s Face-Searcher service enables organisations to utilise facial recognition as a hosted cloud service. It requires minimal capital outlay, incorporates advanced, world-class face recognition technology and eliminates the need to install or maintain a complicated software infrastructure or related compute platform on your premises. The Face-Searcher Edge component detects and crops faces from retailyour CCTV cameras and submits them to the cloud-service for matching.

Facewatch subscribers can now instantly and automatically share their images of Subjects of Interest to Face-Searcher’s watchlists, thereby allowing real-time watchlist alerting to any device connected to Facewatch’s integrated alert management system. This integrated offering can now help businesses prevent crime by warning them if someone who enters their premises is on a watchlist of known offenders.

Simon Gordon, of Facewatch, says “A major factor that has hindered the wide-scale adoption of face recognition by business has been the requirement to install and manage costly and complex software. Allevate’s cloud-hosted SaaS offering removes this headache and enables businesses to benefit from the accuracy of the industry’s best face recognition algorithms in a cloud-enabled shared-services environment with a simple easy to understand monthly subscription fee.”

Carl Gohringer, of Allevate, continues “The best face-recognition technology in the world is useless unless businesses have accurate and reliable subject matter to match against. Facewatch has already proven invaluable in enabling businesses to seamlessly interact with their local police. Now, they can co-operate by sharing this same imagery amongst their local business groups.”

Face-Searcher is built on the industry-proven enterprise-grade MXSERVERTM platform enabling automated facial detection and recognition, developed by Tygart Technology, Inc. MXSERVERTM is the only biometric search engine on the market designed to handle Big Data (processing massive amounts of photos and videos) by leveraging a cloud-based architecture for faster parallel processing of services.  MXSERVERTM is proven and utilised by Defence, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organisations and has also been used to enhance security at major events, such as the 2015 European Games, a major international sporting event.

This integrated offering is being made available in Brasil by our local partner, Staff Security Ltd. Humberto Bambira, of Staff Security, says “We have been developing this exciting opportunity for the mass market rollout of facial recognition in Brasil with Facewatch for two years and I am delighted to see the launch of the service.”


About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

 

About Facewatch

Founded in London in 2010, Facewatch has worked with UK policing to create the world’s first private sector crime reporting platform that enables business and police to share information securely and instantly.

Visit us at http://www.facewatch.co.uk,  email us at info@facewatch.co.uk, call us on +44 20 7930 3225 and follow us at @Facewatch.

 

About Tygart Technology, Inc.

Tygart Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise-grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems.  Tygart provides the U.S. Military, Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement markets with innovative software solutions that manage and automate the processing of massive volumes of digital video and photograph collections.

Visit us at www.tygart.com or call 1-304-363-6855.

 


Allevate Announces Availability of SaaS Face Recognition Service on UK’s Digital Marketplace (G-Cloud 8)

newsreleasePowerful Cloud-Enabled Video and Photographic Forensic Analysis System Incorporating Face Recognition is available to all UK government, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to assist in combatting crime and terrorist activities. MXSERVER, enabled by Sungard Availability Services, automates the bulk-processing of media for forensic analysis and is already proven by US Federal agencies to provide an “Order of Magnitude” efficiency gain and significantly enhanced identification of suspects.

LONDON, UK 02 August 2016:  Allevate today announces that MXSERVER is available on the UK Crown Commercial Service’s Digital Marketplace G-Cloud 8 Framework.  Allevate’s SaaS G-Cloud offering is enabled by Sungard Availability Services, who provides a Secure Managed Cloud IaaS and PaaS platform, with OFFICIAL classification, for UK Government Service Provision.

Our security services are faced with a relentless increase in digital media — from CCTV and surveillance cameras, police body worn video, online sources such as Facebook and YouTube, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, ‘crowd-sourced’ from members of the public. There has been no easy and cost-effective way to access the intelligence this media contains. Experienced and expensive human capital has been assigned the rote task of watching countless hours of video in the hope of finding useful information.

MXSERVER, from Tygart Technology, processes vast amounts of textual, video and photo collections quickly – automatically discovering, grouping and extracting segments depicting people. Using face recognition technology, this solution searches media archives to find other assets which depict individuals of interest. It also indexes the digital media to enable it to be efficiently searched using a photograph of a face, previewed and analysed via an intuitive web-based user interface. Results become available in minutes rather than hours or days because the digital media files are processed in parallel over a distributed cloud-architecture.

Allevate emphasizes that “MXSERVER delivers a Big Data solution for law-enforcement’s growing video and photo assets. It provides a significantly enhanced identification capability that is quicker and more efficient than manually watching video. “

From today, access to both the software and all hosting and storage services are available on Digital Services Marketplace G-Cloud 8 framework using an easy to calculate monthly service fee. The G-Cloud catalogue is open to all public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive IdentificationCrown-Commercial-Service-Supplier_logo
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About the UK Crown Commercial Service

The UK Crown Commercial Service (CCS) works with both departments and organisations across the whole of the public sector to ensure maximum value is extracted from every commercial relationship and improve the quality of service delivery. The CCS goal is to become the “go-to” place for expert commercial and procurement services.


“Facial recognition system was used on live video from surveillance cameras at the 2015 European Games, in Baku, Azerbaijan”

From nextgov.com US SPIES TRAIN COMPUTERS TO SPOT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY IN LIVE VIDEOS

“Last year, a facial recognition system was used on live video from surveillance cameras at the European Games, in Baku, Azerbaijan, according to the tool’s developer, Tygart. During the June 2015 event, organizers watched a webpage that could issue an alert if a face in the crowd matched that of an individual on a watch list. ”

Baku2015 was the inaugural European Olympic Committee’s First European Games and was attended by 6,000 athletes from over 50 countries over 16 days, with over 600,000 tickets sold.

MXSERVER is a highly scalable cloud-enabled solution to process videos and photographs applying face recognition.

All faces in the media are:

  • Extracted and cropped
  • Searched against a watchlist
  • Indexed so the media can be searched with a photograph

Media inputs to MXSERVER include:

  • Body Worn Video
  • Live surveillance cameras (CCTV)
  • Archived video
  • Online Sources (YouTube, Facebook etc)
  • Confiscated hardrives, phones, PCs (Digital Forensics)

You can view more info on MXSERVER at:
http://allevate.com/index.php/mxserver/mxserver_presentation/

… and read more about the proposition at:
http://allevate.com/index.php/2013/08/01/intelligence-and-efficiency-through-on-demand-media-analysis-using-face-recognition/


Allevate Now Offering Toshiba’s Face Recognition Integrated with the MXSERVER Cloud-Enabled Media Analysis Platform

newsrelease

Integrated Offering Combines MXSERVER’s Proven Ability to Massively Scale the Processing of Vast Quantities of Video and Photographs with the NIST Demonstrated Accuracy of Toshiba’s Face Recognition Library

 

 

 

London, UK — 15 March 2016Allevate Limited today announced that, working cooperatively with Tygart Technology, it is now offering Toshiba’s Face Recognition Software Library as an integrated component of Tygart’s MXSERVER™ to enable European government, law enforcement and security agencies to further enhance public safety. MXSERVER is an algorithm-agnostic, cloud-enabled system that processes vast quantities of video and photo collections to transform these digital assets into searchable resources by using face recognition.

According to Allevate, one of the key strengths of Tygart’s MXSERVER is the fact that it is agnostic to and can be deployed with multiple commercially available face recognition algorithms (COTS) or government developed face recognition algorithms (GOTS). This enables Allevate to work co-operatively with the end-user and algorithm vendors to determine the most appropriate selection of algorithm to meet each client’s unique needs. Additionally, clients have the flexibility to continually improve performance by using the best available algorithm over the life of the project as requirements change. Traditionally, having purchased an entire turn-key platform from a specific face recognition algorithm vendor, clients would have to sacrifice their entire investment in that vendor’s platform should they wish to change the underlying algorithms for any reason. MXSERVER enables clients to leverage their investment in a scalable Enterprise Grade technology platform by only changing the underlying algorithm components.

Toshiba’s Face Recognition Software Library is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that provides automated face detection and tracking in videos and photos, face recognition matching and photograph quality assessment.  The combination of this SDK with MXSERVER will provide government, law enforcement and security agencies with enhanced surveillance, monitoring and forensic analysis capabilities.

An Allevate spokesman said “Toshiba is one of the leading providers of face recognition technology and continues to be one of the top performers as demonstrated by independent testing by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)”. He continued “We are very pleased to offer our clients further flexibility with the provision of Tygart’s MXSERVER with a Toshiba-inside option.”

“We are very proud of the accuracy and price performance ratio of Toshiba’s enterprise-grade software algorithms, based on the result of FRV2013 by NIST,” said Nobuyoshi Enomoto, Deputy Senior Manager of Toshiba. “Integration with the MXSERVER cloud-enabled platform strengthens our offering with a scalable search and index capability to support real-time surveillance and monitoring for public security and post-event forensic analysis.” He continues “We are pleased to be working with Allevate to make this joint offering available to Europe’s law-enforcement, intelligence and security agencies.”

—ENDS—

About MXSERVER

MXSERVER is a cloud-architected face recognition system that processes vast quantities of video and photo collections extracted from police body cameras, online sources, surveillance systems, digital forensics and, increasingly, “crowd-sourced” from the public.

MXSERVER can transform these digital assets into searchable resources. Using face recognition technology it searches media archives to find individuals of interest. It also indexes the media to enable it to be searched using a photograph. Trained investigators are freed to intelligently apply their skills without having to view countless hours of media.

 About Allevate Limited

Visit us at http://allevate.com, email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399.

About Toshiba Corporation

For more information, visit http://www.toshiba.co.jp/sis/en/scd/face/face.htm


Face Recognition in Airports

The accuracy of face recognition has increased dramatically. It is now capable of providing reliable results in real-world environments; the technology is being deployed in airports today to enable everything from automated immigration processes, improved surveillance, security and seamless passenger travel, to the gathering of valuable statistical information pertaining to passenger movements.

1.0 The Business Environment

Airports are complex environments involving multiple stakeholders with conflicting requirements:

  • Government and border control.
  • Police.
  • Airport operators.
  • Airlines.
  • Retailers.

All parties must comply with all Government regulations and utilise the latest documents and passports from multiple issuing states while adhering to all security requirements.

2.0 Current Applications of Face Recognition in Airports

Face recognition has evolved significantly over the past decade and has now attained a level of accuracy that provides real and quantifiable business benefit to all stakeholders in an airport environment. Solutions incorporating face recognition are already being deployed today.

2.1 Automated Border Control Gates at Immigration

Many nations world-wide have deployed e-Passports which are being carried by an ever-increasing percentage of the world’s population. This enables governments to deploy Automated Border Control (ABC) gates. In EU nations for example, these gates:

  • are for EU passport holders.air travel
  • do not require pre-enrolment.
  • perform a 1:1 face verification of a live scan against the JPG on the passport chip.

In the UK these gates are being widely deployed at entry ports and seemingly form the backbone of the government’s strategy for automatically clearing EU passengers.

Many EU member starts are increasingly enabling the use of the gates by non-EU nationals who pre-register in Trusted Traveller systems.

In Asia ABC deployments  process hundreds of thousands of passengers daily, maximising the efficiency of live border guards.

2.1.1 How it Works

The process involved in an ABC gate is fairly simple:

  1. The passenger approaches the gate and has their passport read by the e-gate.
  2. The validity of the data page on the passport is verified using a variety of tests.
  3. The information in the machine readable zone (MRZ) is verified against the data read off the chip.
  4. The passport information is sent to the appropriate government systems for the appropriate checks.
  5. If there are any problems thus far, the passenger is re-directed to a manned border lane, otherwise …
  6. A live photo is captured of the passenger (with appropriate liveness checks).
  7. Face recognition is used to verify the live capture with the photograph read off the passport’s chip.
  8. If the photo does not match, the passenger is assisted by a live border guard, otherwise…
  9. The passenger is allowed to proceed.

In this use of face recognition:

  • FAR represents the percentage of passengers holding a passport that does not belong to them that are wrongly admitted.
  • FRR represents the percentage of legitimate passengers who are wrongly re-directed to a live border guard due to the photographs not matching.

There have been no published studies of the FAR and FRR achieved by a live border guard, but it is generally accepted that face recognition operates at a higher level of accuracy, especially when a border guard has been on operational duty for more than 2 hours or has to deal with visual verification of multiple races of passengers. Most e-gate deployments in Europe today operate with an FRR of approximately 6% set against a corresponding FAR of 0.1%.

Recently, an officer responsible for a large deployment of e-gates in an international airport indicated that in his view, most imposters attempting fraudulent entry into the country prefer to try their luck with manned border guards rather than use automated gates.

2.1.2 The Business Benefit

You don’t have to look far today to read of the burgeoning deficits of most western nations. Austerity is the order of the day. Even in light of the expected year-on-year growth in passenger numbers, budgets are being cut. More and more often, improved efficiencies introduced by the sensible deployment of technology are being relied on to address these budget shortfalls.

Border guards are highly skilled and experienced staff deployed at the front-line of our nations defences. 99% of travellers entering a country are benign. Routine checking of travel documents and verification of valid ownership are tasks that can now be better performed by technology, thereby enabling the automated egress of legitimate travellers and allowing the border guards to focus on and find the 1% of the travellers they really want to speak with. In effect, removing the haystack to reveal the needle.

It is also relevant to note that the higher the accuracy of the face recognition solution deployed, the lower the FRR realised, thereby resulting in fewer passengers redirected to a live border guard and a lower cost of total ownership.

2.1.3 An Example

Another nation that has recently trialled the deployment of 4 ABC lanes determined the following:

  • Without the ABC lanes, 8 manual lanes required 8 border guards.
  • With the ABC lanes, the same 8 border guards were able to monitor 12 lanes.
  • Without the 4 ABC lanes, 8 border guards oversaw the entry of 950 passengers per hour.
  • With the 4 ABC lanes, 8 border guards oversaw the entry of 2,400 passengers per hour.

Even with the deployment of a limited number of ABC lanes a real and tangible benefit was realised.

2.2 Trusted Traveller Systems

Most ABC solutions deployed today take one of two forms:

  • Non-Registered, for holders of e-Passports from authorised countries (as discussed above).
  • Registered, for holders of passports from countries not authorised to use the Non-Registered lanes (or holders of older passports without a chip).

Examples of the latter include the US Global Entry, Dutch Privium (collectively FLUX) and the now retired UK IRIS systems.

As non-registered systems become more commonplace and the number of e-passport holders continues to rise, the business case for governments to provide separate free-to-use Trusted Traveller systems becomes vague. Ideally, given the limited space available in airports, the best scenario involves these passengers using the same physical e-gates as users of the non-registered systems.

Existing e-gates are being modified to accommodate holders of e-Passports from other nations. An additional step in the process flow allows the e-gate to cross-reference against a database of pre-enrolled and vetted Trusted Travellers. An additional face verification can be performed against the stored face details of the enrolled passenger.

2.3 Departure and Boarding Gates

The previous example depicts the use of biometrics to facilitate passenger processing at immigration and to introduce efficiencies to the tasks of border control officials. Airport operators and airlines are also increasingly turning to biometrics to facilitate the flow of outbound passengers through airport terminals.

Simplifying Passenger Travel (SPT) was an initiative led by airlines, airports, governments and technology providers which proposed the “Ideal Process Flow”. The goal was to combine e-passports, biometrics and network infrastructure to enable the automatic identification and processing of passengers to move them through the airport seamlessly while freeing up staff to concentrate on security threats and customer service.

While the full ambition of assigning a single biometric identifier to a passenger’s entire airport journey, from booking, to check-in, bag drop through to security and eventually boarding is yet to be realised, key elements are already being implemented by airport operators.

2.3.1 The Problem

Many airport terminals have a single common departure lounge for both domestic and international passengers. Here exists the potential for a departing domestic traveler to swap boarding cards with an arriving international traveller, thereby enabling the arriving traveller to transit to a domestic airport and bypass immigration processes.

2.3.2 The Solution

This problem can be remedied by introducing automatic gates with face recognition at the entry to the common departure area and at the gate prior to airplane boarding. The automated gate at plane boarding captures the passenger’s face and verifies it with the face captured and associated with the boarding card when the passenger entered the departure area, thereby detecting if a boarding card has been swapped.

2.4 Surveillance: Real Time Watchlist Alerts

Matching faces captured from CCTV against photographic databases has long been the holy grail of face recognition. These systems are now being deployed today.

2.4.1 What it Delivers

These solutions are designed to integrate with existing surveillance processes; faces are extracted in real-time from the CCTV video feed and matched against a watchlist of individuals. When the system identifies an individual of interest, it raises an alert that can be responded to rapidly and effectively.

In this application of face recognition:

  • FAR represents the percentage of people captured by a CCTV camera that are falsely matched against the watchlist (in essence the number of false alarms raised by the system).
  • FRR represents the percentage of people captured by a CCTV camera who are in the watchlist but for which no alarm is raised.

The alerting mechanism is a binary process. If the system raises too many false alarms, it will quickly be ignored by those tasked with responding to these alerts. The objective of these systems is to minimise the false alerts to a manageable level, while detecting the highest possible percentage of people moving past the cameras who are in the watchlist (true ID rate).

2.4.2 Challenges

It is essential that expectations are set appropriately. Scenarios where thousands of cameras are scanning large crowds of people in day and night environments and from a distance to identify individuals of interest are still largely unrealistic. The best results are obtained:

  • Using newer high definition cameras (3-5 megapixels).
  • Indoors with uniform lighting or outside during daylight in the absence of specific glare.
  • Where people are generally facing the same direction and moving towards the camera.
  • In a suitable pinch-point, such as in a corridor, lane or access gate / turnstile (not large crowds of people).
  • Where cameras are positioned in such a manner as to minimise the angle to the face (ideally < 20 degrees).

Additionally, as the system is comparing poorer quality photos captured from CCTV, it is imperative that the highest quality reference photos are inserted into the watchlist. Systems comparing poor photos against poor photos operate at significantly reduced accuracy levels.

Even with the above considerations in mind, there exist substantial opportunities and environments in which these solutions may be deployed to deliver significant results.

2.4.3 Technical Considerations

These solutions are typically deployed in environments where large numbers of people may be crossing the cameras. As such, depending on the size of the watchlist, a very large number of face verifications need to take place. Such solutions potentially require intensive use of server infrastructure.

Typically, the main considerations that determine the server infrastructure required are:

  • The size of the watchlist.
    (Typically, these would only contain key or significant individuals.)
  • The number of people moving across the camera(s).
    (This represents the number of transactions or searches against the watchlist.)
  • The response time required in which to raise an alert.
  • The number of frames per second which are being captured by the cameras.
    (The higher the frame rate, the more times you capture the same person walking past the camera.)

Real-time searching of an entire criminal database is not typically feasible; consideration should be taken when determining who should be inserted into the watchlist to minimise its size. Typical watchlist sizes are in the hundreds or thousands.

The two major areas of processing inherent in such a system include:

  • Creating biometric templates of all the faces moving across the CCTV camera.
  • Matching these biometric templates against the watchlist.

Of these, template creation generally requires the most CPU power and time.

Therefore very careful consideration must be given to the number of frames per second (fps) the cameras are running at. Many systems typically run at 5-10 fps. While the processing power is significantly reduced, so is the overall accuracy of the system. The lower the fps, the more likely it is that the system will throw away frames containing a high quality image of the individuals’ faces.

To obtain optimal accuracy, cameras should be running at up to 20fps. However, this will result in more images of the same person being captured, resulting in a higher level of template creations and searches. Solutions must be designed with scalability in mind, allowing the most efficient use of server power available.

2.4.4 An Example

An example of an existing live deployment in an airport environment consists of:

  • Up to 10 five megapixel cameras running at 25 fps.
  • A peak transaction rate of 1,000 people per minute moving across the cameras.
  • A watchlist of up to 1,000 people.
  • An alert response time of 5 seconds.

Each person is captured tens of times, resulting in tens of thousands of template creations per minute and tens of millions of biometric verifications per minute.

In this environment, assuming suitable environmental conditions and positioning of the cameras, this system identifies people in the watchlist up to 90% of the time (true id rate) with only one false alarm per day. If operators are willing to accept more false alarms, the true id rate can be increased by configuring system tuning parameters and lowering matching thresholds.

Such systems are already running today.

2.5 Surveillance: Forensic Video Analysis

The increase in the use of CCTV cameras has led to an ever increasing volume of archived video footage. The intelligence in this footage typically remains inaccessible unless appropriately analysed and indexed. Reducing investigation hours when limited resources are available is essential. Such systems can be used to populate databases of “seen” individuals, thereby enabling authorities to search for specific people of interest to determine if, when and where they have been present.

2.5.1 How it Works

  • Faces of individuals are captured from CCTV and archived in a database.
  • Authorities can search the archive using a photo to determine a camera ID and timestamp.
  • Playback of the relevant recording can be enabled by storing pointers into the video archive.

2.5.2 Usage Example: Passengers without Documentation

One usage already deployed today is to quickly and accurately determine the point of origin of arriving passengers without documentation, such as asylum seekers.

If a passenger presents themselves to immigration without documentation and does not provide accurate or complete information about themself, authorities can capture a photograph of the person and search the database of archived faces. If cameras are placed in aerobridges to record disembarking passengers, it is then a simple process to identify on which flight the passenger arrived.

2.6 Queue Management and Flow Analysis

It is becoming increasingly important for airlines and airport operators to monitor queue lengths and passenger flows within the airport. Understanding peak and quiet times is essential to enable sufficient and efficient staffing and resourcing. Raising alerts to manage unforeseen queues is critical for ensuring passenger satisfaction as well as for ensuring that all SLAs with other stakeholders, such as airlines or government agencies, are adhered to.

A common solution thus far has involved the tracking of bluetooth enabled devices such as PDAs and smartphones which are carried by passengers. However, relatively low percentages (approximately 15%) of passengers carry such a device, let alone have the bluetooth on the device activated.

A solution that provides a much more comprehensive data set and accurate information is needed.

2.6.1 The Application of Face Recognition

Solutions using CCTV with face recognition can timestamp when individuals are detected at known camera locations, thereby providing highly accurate information on passenger flows such as:

  • How long does it take to move between two or more points? (such as check-in to security)
  • What are the averages and when are the peaks?
  • How does this vary with time of day?

…as well as providing invaluable insight on how passengers move through the airport:

  • What percentage of passengers move from security to duty free?
  • How many of these are male / female?
  • How long does the average passenger spend shopping in duty free?
  • How is this impacted by queue lengths?

Importantly, no specific passenger identifying information is recorded.

2.6.2 How it Works

As passengers enter an area of interest they are acquired by a camera and anonymously enrolled into the system:

  • CCTV cameras enabled with biometric technology are installed at appropriate areas of interest.
  • Passengers are automatically searched against the database of enrolled individuals.
  • The passenger’s anonymous record is updated with a camera number and timestamp.
  • The database is automatically purged as required at regular pre-defined intervals.
  • The system can raise the appropriate alerts as required (i.e. queues too long).

3 Privacy Considerations

Any article on face recognition would be seriously remiss without at least mentioning privacy. There are a multitude of sources available for detailed discussions on privacy versus benefit of this technology, including the views of this article’s author; readers should familiarise themselves with this issue before considering any deployment of face recognition.

4 What’s Next?

As the use of face recognition continues to be substantiated, more ingenuitive applications will be deployed. Cloud-based services will enable the transfer of expensive computing power out of the airport into shared server facilities. Face recognition will assign a passenger a single unique and transient identity during their movement through the airport, thereby allowing them to be processed by multiple applications seamlessly and effortlessly. Passenger movement through an airport environment can be tracked up to the point of their departure. Personalised way-finding solutions can guide individual passengers to their specific gate, thereby reducing flight delays and passengers who are delaying flights can be quickly and easily located.

6 Summary

The accuracy of face recognition has increased dramatically over the past years. It is now capable of providing reliable results in real-world environments and the technology is being deployed today in airports to enable everything from automated immigration processes, improved surveillance and security, seamless passenger travel and the gathering of valuable statistical information pertaining to passenger movements. The number of potential applications of this technology will continue to deliver benefits in creative ways we have yet to imagine.

The business benefit is real and quantifiable.

This is an excerpt of the author’s original version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biometrics Technology Today (BTT).


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Cloud-Based Face Recognition now Accessible from Smart Mobile Devices to Enhance Public Safety in Europe 1

newsrelease

Allevate is now offering Tygart’s new MXMOBILE™ FaceID System for smart mobile devices to enable European government and law enforcement agencies to access an MXSERVER™ system to identify faces on the move.

 

London, UK 6th August 2015– Allevate Limited today announced that, working cooperatively with Tygart Technology, it is now offering Tygart’s new MXMOBILE™ FaceID System for smart mobile devices to enable European government and law enforcement agencies to access an MXSERVER™ system to identify faces on the move. MXSERVER is a cloud-architected system that processes vast quantities of video and photo collections to transform these digital assets into searchable resources by using face recognition.

By leveraging the power and benefits of modern mobile technology, the MXMOBILE FaceID System brings the same power and face recognition analytic capabilities of MXSERVER onto smart mobile devices to lower the cost and improve the accuracy of remotely identifying individuals in the field.

This capability enables an officer located anywhere in the world to capture and upload a photograph to determine the identity of a subject within seconds. “MXMOBILE represents a huge technological leap forward for agents in the field, providing them with the capability to identify individuals using facial recognition in virtually real-time,” says John F Waugaman, President of Tygart Technology.

Agents can now transmit photos or videos captured on their smartphone through the MXMOBILE application, to be processed by MXSERVER using automated face detection and recognition technologies. The faces in the photos or videos are then matched by MXSERVER against watch lists to almost instantly offer a short, rank-ordered list of options that best match these faces, along with any other relevant information such as biographical information, known aliases and previous comments regarding the individual.

In addition to field use for the identification of persons of interest (POI), law enforcement agencies can make MXMOBILE available as a citizen policing tool, providing citizens the ability to upload videos and photographs of suspicious behaviour.

“Allevate has been working to make the power of MXSERVER, already utilised by defense and law enforcement agencies in the USA, available to European agencies”, says Carl Gohringer, founder of Allevate Limited. “We are pleased to be able to offer MXMOBILE to put this capability directly into the hands of law enforcement officers on the move.”

—ENDS—               

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com, email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399, follow us on Twitter at @Allevate and follow us on LinkedIN at :http://www.linkedin.com/company/allevate-limited.

About Tygart Technology      

For more information, visit http://www.tygart.com or call +1 304 363 6855.


Allevate Offers New Version of MXSERVER, utilising Facial Recognition; Provides Near Real-Time Analysis Capabilities

 

Solution Offernewsreleases Enhanced Forensic Video and Photo Functionality for Defence, Intelligence, National Security and Law Enforcement Agencies

 

 

London, UK, 21st January 2015 –  Allevate Limited today announced the availability of the latest version of MXSERVER from Tygart Technology, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems. MXSERVER is a cloud-architected face recognition system that processes vast quantities of video and photo collections, quickly transforming files extracted from police body cameras, online sources, surveillance systems, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, “crowd-sourced” from members of the public.

MXSERVER can transform these digital assets into searchable resources and identify and highlight useable intelligence.  Using face recognition technology, this solution searches media archives, including those stored in disparate or disconnected systems, to find  individuals of interest. It also indexes the digital media to enable it to be efficiently searched using a photograph of a face, previewed and analysed via an intuitive web-based user interface. Trained investigators are freed to intelligently apply their skills without having to view countless hours of media.

MXSERVER v2.7 is a significant upgrade to prior versions, improving back-end video/photo processing and face search speed and reliability. Numerous functional enhancements have been made which simplify and expedite video/photo analysis and biometric enrollment. Major improvements include:

  • Faster Face Search and Enhanced Scalability – face search speed is ten times faster — in large part because of MXSERVER’s new distributed “in memory” search capability. The search space is now evenly distributed across MXSERVER’s cloud of search workers which also improves the system’s scalability. MXSERVER supports very large face galleries containing 10 million+ subjects.
  • Expanded Support of Additional File Types and Partially Corrupt Content – Tygart added a second video processing SDK to deliver more robust handling of partially corrupt videos and new/additional video and image file formats. Videos that can only be partially processed (those with corrupt segments) will no longer fail processing, and will still retain partial results.
  • Enhanced Face Export – users can now define a minimum face size threshold when exporting face samples. Only those face samples greater than the user defined minimum pixel width (as measured between the eyes) will be exported.
  • Support for Multiple Watchlists – organisations can now easily create, manage and search multiple watchlists.
  • Batch Face Search – face search requests can now be submitted in large batches and can be cancelled, deleted and prioritized via an interactive search queue management module.

The MXSERVER upgrade also includes enhanced security. Agencies are now able to limit personnel access through the addition of a “view only” user privilege classification, as well as an added quality control option, which requires a second user to confirm face matches. The ability to quickly, effectively and securely identify suspects after an incident or even help prevent one before it occurs is invaluable for law enforcement.

In the UK, access to MXSERVER and all hosting and storage services are available on the G-Cloud Digital Marketplace  using an easy to calculate monthly service fee. The GCloud catalogue is open to all public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

—ENDS—

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399, follow us on Twitter at @Allevate and follow us on LinkedIN at : http://www.linkedin.com/company/allevate-limited

About Tygart Technology

Tygart Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise-grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems. Tygart provides the U.S. Military, Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement markets with innovative software solutions that manage and automate the processing of massive volumes of digital video and photograph collections. Tygart’s solutions save analysts and investigators valuable time and resources, allowing the delivery of more timely responses for a lower cost.

For more information, visit www.tygart.com or call 1-304-363-6855.


Allevate Enhances Operational Border Management Expertise

 

Addition of newsreleasea  highly reputable associate further enhances Allevate’s ability to support border enforcement and immigration to combat organised crime, fight terrorism and enhance public order whilst improving operational efficiency.

 

London, UK, 21st July 2014: Allevate today announced the addition of a  senior associate highly experienced in the area of border management. This addition enhances our ability to address the needs of operational border management and immigration enforcement clients with the application identification technology and its practical application in critical infrastructure as well as adds to our operational knowledge of business change management within the context of large government programmes.

Supporting Allevate’s client and project focused activities henceforth shall be Ian Neill who has  over 35 years’ experience in Border security and law enforcement. In addition to holding roles at IATA and being an advisor to ICAO and the World Customs’ Organisation, he as most recently been Acting Director of Strategy and Future development for the United Kingdom’s Border Systems Programme.

Allevate, through its partnership with US-based Tygart Technology, offers the MXSERVER automated media analysis and exploitation system. This server-based and cloud-architected system enables forensic investigators to process an order of magnitude more digital media, comprising both video and photo collections. It quickly transforms media extracted from online sources, captured computers, mobile phones, flash cards and video surveillance systems into searchable resources.

Tygart’s MXSERVER is already widely deployed with multiple US Department of Defense customers and is made available by Allevate on the UK G-Cloud Cloudstore. Cloudstore is open to all UK public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity from the catalogue without having to invite competitive tenders from suppliers.

—ENDS—

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology. AMAIS: Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399, follow us on Twitter at @Allevate and follow us on LinkedIN at : http://www.linkedin.com/company/allevate-limited

 


Face Recognition & Media Analysis in the Cloud available to UK Law Enforcement and other Government Agencies on GCloud Cloudstore

newsrelease

 

  • Face Recognition and other detection technologies in a Government Cloud.
  • Bulk media processing (ie body worn video) for UK Gov, Police and Intelligence.
  • “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS) model ensures optimal purchasing flexibility.
  • Now available in the UK GCloud Cloudstore.
  • Provides an “Order of Magnitude” efficiency gain.
  • Already proven with US Federal Agencies.

LONDON, UK 28th May 2014: Identity E2E and Allevate Limited today announced the Cloud-hosted availability of MXSERVER to improve the efficiency of police and intelligence operations in combatting organised crime, terrorist activities and civil unrest. As trained investigators can now spend a fraction of the amount of time repetitively watching significant volumes of media, they are freed to intelligently apply their skills to other tasks and demands where they are best suited. 

Peter Wales from Identity E2E states “Our security services are faced with a relentless increase in digital media — from police body worn video, online sources such as Facebook and YouTube, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, ‘crowd-sourced’ from members of the public.” He continues “Until now, there has been no easy and cost-effective way to access the intelligence this media contains. Experienced and expensive human capital has been assigned the rote task of watching countless hours of video in the hope of finding useful information. “

MXSERVER, from Tygart Technology, processes vast amounts of textual, video and photo collections quickly – automatically discovering, grouping and extracting segments depicting people. Using face recognition technology, this solution searches media archives to find other assets which depict individuals of interest. It also indexes the digital media to enable it to be efficiently searched using a photograph of a face, previewed and analysed via an intuitive web-based user interface. Results become available in minutes rather than hours or days because the digital media files are processed in parallel over a distributed cloud-architecture.

Allevate emphasizes that “MXSERVER delivers a Big Data solution for law-enforcement’s growing video and photo assets. It provides a significantly enhanced identification capability that is quicker and more efficient than manually watching video. “

Identity E2E and Allevate have chosen Skyscape, the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector, to host the MXSERVER service. Accredited hosting environments up to Impact Level 3 can be made available to store and process digital media. Alternatively, clients may elect to host MXSERVER within their own secure facilities for dealing with the highly sensitive data.

From today, access to both the software and all hosting and storage services are available on the G-Cloud v ‘CloudStore’ using an easy to calculate monthly service fee. The GCloud catalogue is open to all public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

To better understand how MXSERVER can help you to efficiently find actionable intelligence by exploiting the masses of raw media in your possession, contact Identity E2E on info@identityE2E.com orAllevate Limited at contact@allevate.com or watch a video on MXSERVER here: http://youtu.be/eojp27QdIxQ

—ENDS—

About Identity E2E

Identity E2E is a specialist SME, recognised experts in the field of identity management, biometrics and the integration of these solutions and systems. In a rapidly changing environment, one of the areas we are providing particular support is in the transition of biometric systems that have been designed, procured and implemented for specific bespoke environments to new Cloud-based solutions (IaaS, SaaS and PaaS).

Visit us at http://identitye2e.co.uk , email us at info@identitye2e.co.uk and call us on +44 203 642 0195.

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology.

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 203 239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About Skyscape

Skyscape is the new standard for a greener, smarter, more cost effective cloud solution and our services are secure, sustainable and compliant. Our scalable products are UK sovereign and offer the best price performance in class. We strive to build long term relationships leveraging value, integrity and social responsibility to enable our clients in the UK Public Sector to profit from our unique use of partner technology, services and innovation in the Skyscape Cloud Alliance.

Visit Skyscape at http://skyscapecloud.com/.

About GCloud

CloudStore is an online marketplace where suppliers offer their services to the public sector via the G-Cloud framework. Public sector bodies can review and buy these services on CloudStore.

Cloud computing lets you access internet-based computing, reducing the need to invest in your own hardware and software. Therefore, by using CloudStore you can:

  • avoid long contracts
  • buy the exact amount of computing resources you need
  • save money on maintenance and physical storage
  • avoid custom-built solutions which take a long time to create, are expensive and difficult to upgrade

You can view Identity E2E’s and Allevate’s GCloud Service Description (5.G5.1841.007) here:
http://govstore.service.gov.uk/cloudstore/5-g5-1841-007

 


Allevate Presents on Cloud-Based Media Analysis and Face Recognition at Counter Terror Expo 2014 in London

newsrelease

Allevate announces that it will be presenting a cloud-based media analysis solution incorporating face recognition that is used by the US DoD at the upcoming Counter Terror Expo 2014 Conference in London, UK,  on the 30th April 2014 .

 

 

London, UK, 25th April 2014: Allevate today announced that it will be presenting Tygart Technology’s MXSERVER, a media analysis and face recognition solution currently being used by the US Department of Defense, at this year’s Counter Terror Expo conference at the Olympia Conference Centre in London.

The presentation, entitled Countering the Terrorist Threat via Digital Media Analysis, will occur in the Practical Counter Terrorism Conference, Day 2, 30th April, 2014. (http://www.counterterrorexpo.com/page.cfm/Link=294/nocache=18122013)

  • Exploiting digital media to enhance public safety whilst reducing operational budgets
  • Easy and cost-effective routes to access the intelligence in digital media held by law enforcement and intelligence agencies
  • Indexing media by the faces it contains allowing investigators to interrogate media by face

Our security services are faced with a relentless increase in digital media – from police body cameras , online sources such as Facebook and YouTube, surveillance systems, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, “crowd-sourced” from members of the public.

MXSERVER is a cloud-architected solution that can ingest, analyse and index huge quantities of video and photo media –thereby transforming them into searchable resources and identifying and highlighting useable intelligence. Trained investigators are freed to intelligently apply their skills without having to view countless hours of media.

Police, intelligence and government agencies in the UK can install MXSERVER in their own private cloud on their own premises, or rent access to the solution hosted in an environment accredited to impact level IL 3 /4 to enable them to unlock the intelligence within the vast amounts of media  faster than ever before, freeing them to focus on what they are trained to do best – solving and preventing crime and terrorism.

—ENDS—

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology. AMAIS: Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399, follow us on Twitter at @Allevate and follow us on LinkedIN at : http://www.linkedin.com/company/allevate-limited

About Counter Terror Expo

Counter Terror Expo offers the most comprehensive display of technology, equipment and services alongside a high level education programme designed to protect against the evolving security threat.

9,500 attendees and 400+ exhibitors will participate in a free to attend exhibition, multiple show floor workshops, new show feature zones, IEDD demo area, high level conference streams, behind closed door briefings and networking events in one secure environment.


Video:Enhancing Public Safety with Automated Media Analysis

 

Allevate Presents MXSERVER from Tygart Technology

Security concerns are increasing. Incidents of public disorder and organized crime are on the rise.

The challenges for security services grow more complex. The 7/7 and Boston bombings vividly illustrated the impact of smaller, less sophisticated and more fragmented extremist activities.

Simultaneously, Governments are implementing the most severe budget cuts of recent times. In this landscape, technology can play an increasingly vital role in more efficiently enhancing public safety.

Our security services are faced with a relentless increase in digital media – from police body cameras , online sources such as Facebook and YouTube, confiscated phones and computers and, increasingly, “crowd-sourced” from members of the public.

Allevate is offering MXSERVER from Tygart Technology, a solution that can ingest, analyse and index huge quantities of video and photo media – identifying and highlighting useable intelligence. Trained investigators are freed to intelligently apply their skills without having to view countless hours of media.

Working with Allevate, our security services can more efficiently enhance public safety. We help unlock the intelligence within the vast amounts of media available to police faster than ever before, freeing them to focus on what they are trained to do best – solving and preventing crime and terrorism.


Allevate is Pleased to be Presenting at the 2014 Counter Terror Expo Conference

… in the Practical Counter Terrorism Conference, Day 2, 301th April, 2014

 

Countering the Terrorist Threat via Digital Media Analysis

  • Exploiting digital media to enhance public safety whilst reducing operational budgets
  • Easy and cost-effective routes to access the intelligence in digital media held by law enforcement and intelligence agencies
  • Using face recognition technology to depict individuals of interest

http://www.counterterrorexpo.com/page.cfm/Link=294/nocache=18122013

 


Merry Christmas from Allevate and Looking Forward to what the New Year Brings!

2013 is looking to have been a pivotal year for Allevate.

It has been a year of new challenges and new focus.

A successful business is defined by more than monetary success. It encapsulates positive social and societal impact.

Whilst it has not been easy, I firmly believe our endevours have real potential to make a difference by contributing to the safety of our society and enhancing the efficiency of our public services.

Looking back at 2013, new relationships and partnerships have been established, new friendships forged and a nascent and growing team established with synergistic enthusiasm, vision, drive and skills.

To the new team and everybody else that has supported me along the way: I’m honored and grateful for your support.

To my family: Thank you for your understanding.

We are leaving 2013 wiser but with definite and strong momentum to carry us into 2014.

I’m very much looking forward to continued hard-work and a successful 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!


Allevate Seeking UK Policing SME to Join Our Team as an Associate Partner

Our enhanced team fully integrated and functioning well! Now looking to further expand the team with a senior policing subject matter expert, suited to a retired senior UK police officer looking to get involved in an exciting new public safety venture with a strong passion to continue to make a difference and improve the safety of society. 

 


Why Privacy Matters

 

Massively interesting talk, that steers through the issues and concepts expertly.

Too often the debate is positioned at its polarised extremes:

  • Privacy is dead, bring on the technology
  • Kill the technology, save our privacy

… but I fervently believe it’s not a dichotomy. The always connected world and the ever increasing need for us to share more and more information does not kill privacy, it fuels the need for it.

With the current rate of change, to refuse to share data will disenfranchise one from society. But as we “need” to share data, we should focus more and more on “how” we share it. The debate will then shift to one of “control” over our data. Slowly structures and policies will develop that enable the sharing of information required, whilst giving us the control over how it is shared in a manner to protect our privacy.

The unconnected world is dead. The need for privacy is greater than ever.  The technology has a place to provide massive benefits.

Privacy AND Technology. NOT Privacy OR Technology.


Incredible Talent Now Working With Allevate

I’m incredibly pleased with the array of talent that is now cooperatively working with Allevate.

Today’s announcement detailing the individuals that are supporting Allevate’s mission to enhance public safety through the application of identification technologies whilst improving the operational efficiency of law enforcement and government agencies reflects on the powerful benefits our solutions can provide.

Amazing biomotric technology is not enough. A scalable and proven cloud-based architecture that blends the matching algorithms in a manner that adopts to the forensic investigation workflow seamlessly, coupled with deep insight of customer challenges and processes, is required to ensure maximum benefit.


Allevate Appoints Non-Executive Director and Welcomes Senior Associates

newsrelease

Appointment of a non-executive director and highly reputable associates further enhances Allevate’s ability to support law-enforcement to combat organised crime, fight terrorism and enhance public order whilst improving operational efficiency.

 

London, UK, 21st October 2013: Allevate today announced the appointment of a non-executive director and broadens its team through the addition of two senior associates that are highly regarded by industry and the public sector alike. These additions enhance our strong understanding of biometric technology and its practical application in critical infrastructure as well as add operational knowledge of business change management within the context of large government programmes.

Allevate, through its partnership with US-based Tygart Technology, offers the MXSERVER automated media analysis and exploitation system. This server-based and cloud-architected system enables forensic investigators to process an order of magnitude more digital media, comprising both video and photo collections. It quickly transforms media extracted from online sources, captured computers, mobile phones, flash cards and video surveillance systems into searchable resources.

Assuming a non-executive directorship with responsibility for governance, compliance and strategic business planning oversight is Gerard Citroen. Carl Gohringer, founder and managing director of Allevate, says “Gerard’s greater than 25 years’ experience in several large B2B companies in complex high technology environments will make him absolutely instrumental in our strategic corporate planning activities.”

Also supporting Allevate’s client and project focused activities henceforth shall be Mike Franklin and Peter Wales who bring decades of major UK government biometric project experience to our clients. Gohringer continues “Peter’s experience in aiding UK government with cost-benefit analysis and business case formation and Mike’s hands on experience with public sector biometric implementations and large-system architectures will ensure successful deployments of MXSERVER with our clients. The involvement of such reputable industry experts is further testament to the powerful benefits provided by MXSERVER and its applicability to our clients’ requirements.”

Tygart’s MXSERVER is already widely deployed with multiple US Department of Defense customers and is made available by Allevate on the UK G-Cloud Cloudstore. Cloudstore is open to all UK public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity from the catalogue without having to invite competitive tenders from suppliers.

—ENDS—

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology. AMAIS: Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399, follow us on Twitter at @Allevate and follow us on LinkedIN at : http://www.linkedin.com/company/allevate-limited

 


Biometrics 2013: Privacy at the cross road: A debate on frameworks

Allevate’s Carl Gohringer is pleased to be participating as a panellist at this week’s debate at Biometrics 2013 on privacy within the context of biometrics.

Tuesday 15th October, 1600, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, UK

http://www.biometrics2013.com/programme.asp

 

Privacy at the cross road: A debate on frameworks
As biometrics become part of our daily lives, the issue of privacy and the protection of personal identifiable information (PII) such as biometric data is beginning to take centre stage.

There will be an exciting opportunity for anonymous audience participation via mobile devices.

This debate will review the pressing issues with respect to privacy and the role of the biometrics industry in it.

The audience will hear the views of prominent privacy experts that will explain what is at stake and why legal frameworks have been difficult to develop so far, and also from industry experts who will give the market perspective and the industry concern regarding the chilling effect of over-reaching privacy legislation.

Delegates will also be invited to play an active role in what promises to be an exciting dialogue on the future of privacy and the role of the biometrics industry in it.

 


Find People Fast in Media using Cloud-Based Face Recognition during Forensic Analysis

When tragic events or social disorder occur, forensic investigators have a long and daunting task of reviewing countless hours of CCTV footage. Increasingly, especially at public events attended by large numbers of people carrying mobile phones with HD cameras, authorities rely on  members of the public to turn in photographs and videos they have taken in the hope that they will contain useful intelligence. Much of this media is already uploaded to public sites such as Facebook and YouTube, providing another rich source of information.

Additionally, police have to review countless hours of media obtained from confiscated computer hard drives, mobile phones and portable cameras and flash memory devices.

Face Recognition?

All of this creates a significant resource burden;  this footage must be watched by people. The application of face recognition technology can play a crucial role in identifying potential suspects.

An Automated Media Processing Cloud

A solution to automate the processing of this staggering amount of media to quickly and efficiently unlock actionable intelligence is required to save significant time and human capital. The ability to automate this would allow the more efficient application of resources as well as massively speed up time-critical investigations.

However, the need goes far beyond the simple application of face recognition technology.

What is needed is a server-based system that can process vast amounts of media quickly to transform files from  mobile phones, flash memory devices, online sources, confiscated computers and hardrives and video surveillance systems into searchable resources. This would enable forensic investigators to work more efficiently and effectively by automatically finding, extracting and matching faces from very large collections of media to discover, document and disseminate information in  real-time.

Such a powerful video and photograph processing architecture should automatically ingest, process, analyse and index hundreds of thousands of photographs and videos in a centralised repository to  glean associations in a cloud environment. Instrumental would be the ability to:

  • Automatically find, extract and index faces to enable  the biometric and biographic searching of media.
  • Create and manage watchlists of people of interest via a web-based interface.
  • Find all instances of photos and videos where a person of interest has been seen.
  • Quickly review and process  media to identify, locate, and track persons of interest, their associates and their activities.
  • Discover, document and diagramtically view  associations between people of interest, their activities and networks.
  • Use media meta-data to geotag video footage and watchlist hits and overlay and present on maps.

Public Facing Cloud-Service to Crowd-Source Media

Finally, a public-facing interface to such a system would enable members of the public to upload their media in a self-service manner to enable quick and ready access by the authorities to this raw data for automatic processing.

Enhance Public Safety and Reduce Budgets

Read about how MXSERVER addresses the AMAIS space (Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching)

This solution is now available to UK public sector on the Government Procurement Service CloudStore – G-Cloud iii Framework as a commodity from the catalogue without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

 


Face Recognition Media Exploitation System for Law Enforcement now available on UK ‘CloudStore’ – G-Cloud iii


newsreleaseAllevate and Methods join forces to offer a solution that automates forensic bulk-processing of media for intelligence purposes on the Government Procurement Service CloudStore – G-Cloud iii Framework.  

 

 The solution is proven with US Federal Agencies to provide an “Order of Magnitude” efficiency gain and significantly enhanced identification of suspects.

 LONDON, UK 13th May 2013: Allevate Limited and Methods today announced their collaboration to help improve UK society by making a face recognition and media processing solution to combat organised crime, terrorist activities and civil unrest available on the Government’s CloudStore – G-Cloud iii.

 With the explosion in digital media due to the ubiquity of smart phones, other portable devices and CCTV, many law enforcement and intelligence agencies have amassed large collections of video and photographs from multiple sources such as confiscated hardware, on-line sources and surveillance cameras.  However, there is no easy and cost-effective way to access the intelligence this media contains and respond rapidly when atrocities occur.  Experienced and expensive human capital must be assigned the rote task of watching countless of hours of video in the hope of finding useful information.  In response, Allevate is offering the MXSERVER solution from Tygart Technology to the EU market.

 The G-Cloud catalogue or ‘CloudStore’ is open to all public sector clients and is designed to provide a simple streamlined process for buying ICT focused products and services as a commodity from the catalogue without having to invite tenders from suppliers.

 Carl Gohringer, founder and Managing Director of Allevate, says “Methods is one of top firms in the UK working with healthcare, central government and local services.  Allevate is proud to collaborate with such a reputable company to offer specialist innovative solutions to the UK Public Sector.”  Peter Rowlins, Chief Executive of Methods, comments “We are pleased to announce Methods’ successful inclusion in the new GCloud iii Framework, awarded by Government Procurement Service on the 4th May 2013.  G-Cloud is now in its third iteration, and the range of services available has expanded significantly.”

 Rowlins continues “We are always at the forefront of innovative thinking and adoption of new technologies.  Given Allevate’s experience with biometrics and understanding of the UK public safety market, we are pleased to be able to offer the unique MXSERVER proposition on the CloudStore.  It is already proven to provide a significant return on investment to US Federal Defence, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organisations.  We are looking forward to providing these same benefits to UK law enforcement.”

 To understand better how MXSERVER can help to create actionable intelligence with less manpower by exploiting the masses of raw media in your possession, contact Allevate Limited at contact@allevate.com.

 MXSERVER can be found on the Cloudstore here:

http://govstore.service.gov.uk/cloudstore/methods-mxserver-find-people-fast-in-multi-media-using-biometric-face-recognition-allevate

—ENDS—

 About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology. AMAIS: Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 203 239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About Methods

Methods is a UK based privately owned medium-sized company that is at the forefront of delivering public services for the digital age.  Methods has offices in London and Edinburgh, with a 20 year track record of working with all UK public services.

Methods has four main lines of business: Advisory, Technical Services, Resourcing, and Analytics, all of which are represented on CloudStore.  Methods works widely with UK law enforcement and criminal justice organisations and has suitable accreditations and facilities.

Visit us at www.methods.co.uk , email us at info@methods.co.uk and call us on +44 207 240 1121.


Revolutionary Face Recognition Media Exploitation System Now Available to Enhance Public Safety in Europe

 

newsrelease

Allevate and Tygart join forces to offer a solution that automates forensic bulk-processing of media for intelligence purposes to cost-constrained European Law Enforcement. Already proven with US Federal agencies to provide an “Order of Magnitude” efficiency gain and significantly enhanced identification of suspects.

LONDON, UK and WASHINGTON, D.C.  9th May 2013: Allevate Limited and Tygart Technology today announced their strategic collaboration to help improve society by providing cost-constrained government agencies with technology to combat organised crime, terrorist activities and civil unrest. Governments across Europe are in fiscal crisis; austerity is the order of the day. Against this backdrop, security risks are continuously increasing. There is a need to enhance public safety whilst reducing operational budgets.

 Allevate, a technology company focusing on improving operational efficiencies and enhancing public safety through positive identification with biometric technology, and Tygart, developers of commercial software products for government and law enforcement agencies, cite an explosion in digital media due to the ubiquity of smart phones, other portable devices and CCTV. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have amassed large collections of video and photographs from multiple sources such as confiscated hardware, online sources and surveillance cameras. However, there is no easy and cost-effective way to access the intelligence this media contains and respond rapidly when atrocities occur; experienced and expensive human capital must be assigned the rote task of watching countless of hours of video in the hope of finding useful information.

 Tygart’s MXSERVER, already providing a significant return on investment to US Federal Defence, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organisations, processes vast amounts of textual, video and photo collections quickly – automatically discovering, grouping and extracting segments depicting people. Using face recognition technology, this solution searches media archives to find other assets which depict individuals of interest. It also enables digital media content to be efficiently searched, previewed and analysed via an intuitive web-based user interface. Results become available in minutes rather than hours or days because the digital media files are processed in parallel over a distributed cloud architecture. MXSERVER delivers a Big Data solution for law-enforcement’s growing video and photo assets that provides significantly enhanced identification of suspects quicker and more efficiently.

Supported by Tygart, Allevate has incorporated MXSERVER into its portfolio of solutions available to European intelligence, law enforcement and government agencies. Additionally, as the software is optionally available on a subscription basis in the UK, public sector organisations can minimise their capital outlay and realise immediate operational efficiency gains.

 Carl Gohringer, founder and Managing Director of Allevate, said “Having previously supported Tygart on contracts to US Federal agencies, the significant advantage their solution provides by automating the processing of previously unmanageable quantities of multimedia was immediately apparent. Allevate is proud to be working with such a reputable organisation to help law enforcement enhance the safety of society in Europe.”

 John Waugaman, President of Tygart, added “Our years’ of experience working with US government agencies has allowed us to build a robust and scalable platform to aid forensic investigation of media. MXSERVER can be right-sized to meet an organisation’s current processing needs and is flexible to be incrementally scaled to meet future demand.”

 Waugaman continued “Allevate’s experience of biometric technology, their extensive network and their comprehensive understanding of public safety in Europe make them an ideal partner for us, and we’re delighted to be working with them to introduce the benefits of MXSERVER to the European market.”

 To better understand how MXSERVER can help to create actionable intelligence with less manpower by exploiting the masses of raw media in your possession, contact Allevate Limited at contact@allevate.com.

—ENDS—

About Allevate Limited

Founded in London in 2007, Allevate works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies to enhance public safety by ensuring positive identification through the application of biometric and identification technology. AMAIS: Automated Media Analysis for Intelligence Searching.

Our relationships with best-of-breed technology suppliers and our extensive network of trusted industry experts coupled with our market intelligence and knowledge of trends ensures we are well positioned to deliver solutions that:

  • Ensure Positive Identification
  • Enhance Public Safety
  • Reduce Operational Costs

Visit us at http://allevate.com , email us at contact@allevate.com, call us on +44 20 3239 6399 and follow us at @Allevate.

About Tygart Technology

Tygart Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise-grade video and photographic analysis and biometric recognition systems.  Tygart provides the U.S. Military, Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement markets with innovative software solutions that manage and automate the processing of massive volumes of digital video and photograph collections.  Tygart’s solutions save analysts and investigators valuable time and resources, allowing the delivery of more timely responses for a lower cost.  More information about Tygart Technology can be found at http://www.tygart.com.

 Email us at llaneza@tygart.com or call us on +1 (304) 363-6855.


Could Automating Media Processing Aid the Forensic Investigation into the Boston Marathon Bombing?

The horror of the events at the marathon in Boston 2 days ago is still very raw. People are united in their sympathy for the victims and their families, their revulsion of these despicable acts and their solidarity in not succumbing to terror. The FBI vows to “…go to the ends of the Earth to find the bomber” with President Obama openly stating the “…heinous and cowardly…” event to be “…and act of terror”.

The investigation into the bombing is in its nascent phases, with the Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis admitting that they are dealing with the “…most complex crime scene that we have dealt with in the history of our department.” Still, authorities are already honing in on crucial evidence and beginning to release details; BBC news reports that a source close to the investigation told AP news agency that the bombs consisted of explosives placed in 1.6-gallon pressure cookers, one with shards of metal and ball bearings, the other with nails, and placed in black bags that were left on the ground. Images of what appear to be a trigger mechanism have already been released.

Face Recognition?

Forensic investigators have a long and daunting task ahead of them with countless hours of CCTV footage to  pore over, and some people are already suggesting that the application of face recognition technology can play a crucial role in identifying potential suspects. However CCTV footage, especially from older systems that have not been specifically configured for the task, is notoriously unreliable as a source for face recognition.

Perhaps more useful at an event attended by so many, most of whom will have been carrying and using mobile phones and cameras, is the footage acquired by members of the public. Images and video captured by these high-quality devices will potentially be of much greater use than CCTV and authorities have appealed for people to turn in photographs and videos they have taken in the hope that they will contain useful intelligence. Much of this media will already have been uploaded to public sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

 An Automated Media Processing Cloud

A solution to automate the processing of this staggering amount of media to quickly and efficiently unlock actionable intelligence is required to save significant time and human capital. The ability to automate this would allow the more efficient application of resources as well as massively speed up a time-critical investigation.

However, the need goes far beyond the simple application of face recognition technology.

What is needed is a server-based system that can process vast amounts of media quickly to transform files from  mobile phones, flash memory devices, online sources, confiscated computers and hardrives and video surveillance systems into searchable resources. This would enable forensic investigators to work more efficiently and effectively by automatically finding, extracting and matching faces from very large collections of media to discover, document and disseminate information in  real-time.

Such a powerful video and photograph processing architecture should automatically ingest, process, analyse and index hundreds of thousands of photographs and videos in a centralised repository to  glean associations in a cloud environment. Instrumental would be the ability to:

  • Automatically find, extract and index faces to enable  the biometric and biographic searching of media.
  • Create and manage watchlists of people of interest via a web-based interface.
  • Find all instances of photos and videos where a person of interest has been seen.
  • Quickly review and process  media to identify, locate, and track persons of interest, their associates and their activities.
  • Discover, document and view  associations between people of interest, their activities and networks.

Finally, a public-facing interface to such a system would enable members of the public to upload their media in a self-service manner to enable quick and ready access by the authorities to this raw data for automatic processing.

 


Unlocking Intelligence from Multi-media

Driven by growing security concerns arising from increasing terrorist attacks, racial and ethnic disturbances, organised civil unrest, random violence, riots, burglary and physical assaults, the global market for the face and voice biometric technologies is projected to reach US$2.9 billion by the year 2018.

Across Europe, governments and law enforcement agencies are increasingly impotent in their ability to combat a deterioration in public safety. The economic crisis that is increasingly fueling public disorder is also paralysing our police and intelligence agencies with draconian budget cuts.

Having previously invested heavily in infrastructure, these agencies have at their disposal huge volumes of data in the form of media, but have no way to unlock the potential intelligence bonanza it contains. Vast sums are being spent allocating experienced and expensive human capital to rote tasks of watching countless of hours of media in the hope of randomly finding useful information.

A solution to automate this processing to quickly and efficiently unlock actionable intelligence from this staggering amount of data is required. The potential to improve public safety whilst simultaneously enabling the more efficient use of our public finances is huge.


Turn Masses of Video in Archives into Actionable Intelligence

There has been an explosion in digital media. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have amassed large collections of video and photographs from multiple sources that are stored in multiple file formats. There is a need to automate the processing of this raw data to turn it into actionable intelligence to enable you to “connect the dots”.

Discover how solutions available from Allevate can dramatically save you time and help you to operate more efficiently by appsurveillancelying data mining principles to digital media:

  • Automatically find and match faces from huge stores of videos and photos.
  • Identify individuals from watchlists and track them across multiple videos.
  • Extract faces from video and automatically cross-reference with all other video.
  • Associate multiple videos and photos based upon their active content and the individuals they contain.
  • Apply enhanced link analysis to identity an individual across multiple video sources.
  • Automatically build links between different individuals based on their associations in media, whether they be known or unknown.
  • Automatically and graphically display web-based drill down link analysis diagrams.
  • Determine “Pattern of Life” analysis for specific individuals and flag deviations from the norm.
  • Manage and access your entire video and photo repository from a single web interface. (automatically transforming multiple video formats)
  • Apply powerful analytical tools to your digital media content.

Work more efficiently. Get more results. Exploit the masses of raw media from multiple sources to create actionable intelligence with less manpower.


Article: Face Recognition: Profit, Ethics and Privacy 2

You can download a PDF copy of this article by clicking this link.

The accuracy of face recognition has increased dramatically. Though biometric technologies have typically been deployed by governments and law enforcement agencies to ensure public, transport and border safety, this improvement in accuracy has not gone unnoticed by retailers and other commercial organisations. Niche biometric companies are being snapped up by internet and social media behemoths to further their commercial interests, and retailers and other enterprises are experimenting with the technology to categorise customers, analyse trends and identify VIPs and repeat spenders. Whilst the benefits to business are clear and seductively tantalising, it has been impossible to ignore the increasing murmurs of discontent amongst the wider population. Concerns over intrusion of privacy and the constant monitoring of our daily lives threaten to tarnish the reputation of an industry which has endeavoured to deliver significant benefit to society through improved public safety. Can the industry be relied upon to self-regulate? Will commercial enterprise go too far in their quest to maximise profits? How far is too far? How can organisations ethically make use of face recognition technology to increase efficiencies and drive revenue, whilst respecting and preserving privacy and maintaining the trust of their clientele and society?

Having previously written on the subject of the application of face recognition in airports as applied by law enforcement and border control, this article looks at the increasing exploitation of the technology for commercial advantage. As well as contrasting the different use-cases defined by commercial exploitation versus public safety applications, this article also touches upon the very different agendas of those using the technology and the privacy issues that arise.

1  Advances in Face Recognition Technology

Face recognition is increasingly transforming our daily lives. A study by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2010 demonstrated that the technology has improved by two orders of magnitude in accuracy over 10 years and further tests currently being conducted by NIST are expected to demonstrate its continued relentless advance. Those interested in reading of these astonishing improvements are encouraged to refer to “Advances in Face Recognition Technology and its Application in Airports”, first published in Biometrics Technology Today (BTT) in July 2012, which summarises the 2010 NIST results in detail.

2  Public Safety versus Generating Profit

Most people accept that the reality of the world today necessitates certain inconveniences and intrusions. We tolerate and increasingly expect surveillance technology to be deployed wisely in situations where there is demonstrable benefit to public safety, such as at transport hubs, large gatherings, public events or areas of critical national infrastructure. The key factor behind such tolerance is comprehension; we understand the reasoning behind these uses and the benefits to ourselves, namely our safety. Though we don’t necessarily like it, we generally accept it.

However, it has been difficult to avoid the increasing coverage in the media of the use of face recognition by commercial organisations. The single most common term that is bandied about in reference to these deployments tends to be “creepy”. The technology being deployed is very often similar, if not identical to, the technology deployed for public safety applications. So precisely what is it about this use of technology that people are averse to?

In order to understand this, it is useful to consider in each case who people perceive benefit from the system. In the case of public safety, the people perceived to benefit are us; the citizens. In the case of commercial use, people perceive the commercial organisation deploying the technology as the beneficiaries. In this scenario the term “benefit” generally means profit, either by increasing revenues or decreasing costs. Often there is a general distrust within society of large corporations profiting from the exploitation of the populace, and this is especially true in times of prolonged economic difficulty. This is additionally complicated by the fact that our biometric traits are viewed as being something that are intrinsically ours and that are a constituent part of our definition.

3  Examples: Uses to Reduce Cost and Generate Revenue

It hasn’t taken long for business minded technology companies to devise a whole range of new uses of face recognition, all focussed on delivering bottom line business benefit. An important characteristic of face recognition is that it is only useful if you have something to match a photograph (probe) against, whether it is another photograph, or a database of photographs (reference set). It is the management, control of access to and often the creation of these reference sets that generate the most privacy concerns.

Let us briefly discuss some of the manners in which the technology is currently being deployed.

3.1  Efficiently Identifying Customers and Staff

This perhaps is the most traditional use of biometrics within commercial organisations. The ability to positively identify people, whether they are your staff or increasingly your customers, is absolutely necessary for the day-to-day operation of business and indeed society. Biometrics can be applied to ensure identity in a more cost-effective and positive manner, thereby introducing efficiencies into the business. It is an unfortunate reality that staff are responsible for a significant amount of theft. Adopting biometric technology can eliminate password theft and help mitigate the risks of identity sharing, thereby reducing fraudulent and unauthorised transactions and ensuring relevant personnel are physically present at the time of a transaction. Additionally, customers can be identified positively before conducting transactions. Cashless payments provide numerous efficiency opportunities by allowing elimination of cash and credit cards at point of payment altogether.

3.1.1         Privacy Considerations

These examples are usually only possible with the consent and approval of the individuals in question. Customers typically register for a biometric payment system, for example, in order to realise a benefit offered by the enterprise. The enterprise in turn must satisfy the customer that their biometric reference data will be kept and managed securely and only for the stated purpose.

The advent of face recognition provides new manners in which you can identify your customers, for example from CCTV cameras as they enter shops or as they view public advertising displays. It is when these activities are performed without the individual’s knowledge or consent that concerns arise.

3.2  Identifying Who is Entering Your Premises

These solutions are designed to integrate with existing surveillance systems; faces are extracted in real-time from a CCTV video feed and matched against a database of individuals. When the system identifies an individual of interest it can raise an alert that can be responded to rapidly and effectively, or log where and when the individual was seen for the formation of analytical data.

This can be used to provide valuable real-time or analytical intelligence to organisations, such as:retail

  • Notification of the arrival of undesirables, such as banned individuals or known shoplifters.
  • Notification of the arrival of valued or VIP customers.
  • Collation of behaviour data of known customers, such as how frequently they visit, which stores they visit and integration with loyalty programmes.

 

 

 

3.2.1         Privacy Considerations

There are a number of potential issues with regards to privacy that need to be considered here, most notably:

  • How is the reference set obtained? Who is in it?
  • Do you have the permission of the individuals in the reference set?
  • How are the photographs in the reference set stored and secured?
  • Are the members of the reference set aware of how and when their photos will be searched?
  • Are the people crossing the cameras aware that their photos are being searched against pre-defined reference sets?
  • What action is taken if a probe image matches against the reference set? What are the implications of a match or a false match?
  • What is done with the probe images after searching the reference set? Are they discarded or stored?

The number of possible uses of this functionality and resulting business benefits are too large to enumerate here, but very careful consideration must be made with regards to the proportionality of the solution when measured against the requirement. Additionally, the views and considerations of the individuals whose images you are verifying, both the people within the reference set and the people whose faces you are sampling as probe images, should be well understood and considered; approval should be sought for inclusion into a reference set.

3.3  Analysing How People Moving Through Your Premises

Face recognition can also be used to determine how people move through premises, such as a department store. Understanding peak and quiet times is essential to enable sufficient and efficient staffing and resourcing. Raising alerts to manage unforeseen queues is critical for ensuring customer satisfaction.

Face recognition applied to CCTV can timestamp when individuals are detected at known camera locations, thereby providing highly accurate information on people flows such as:

  • How long on average does it take to move between two or more points?
    (such as from the entrance of a store to a checkout or exit)
  • What are the averages flow times across the day and when are the peaks?
  • How does this vary with the time of day?

This can be used to determine how people typically move through the premises, and how long on average they linger in specific areas. You can also analyse this data across different age and gender demographic categories.

3.3.1         Privacy Considerations

Importantly, no person identifying information is recorded. There is no interest in identifying who the individuals moving through the premises are or in taking any specific action on any specific individual. There is no need to search against any pre-defined reference sets.

However, there are some issues you should consider when deploying such systems:

  • Biometric matching of people crossing the cameras still occurs. The probe photos are matched against other anonymous people that have previously crossed the cameras.
  • You should carefully consider how long this data will be retained for matching, (generally hours) and the nature of the premises being monitored.

Generally the privacy considerations of this application are minimal.

3.4  Building Databases of People Visiting Your Premises

As previously mentioned, face recognition is only useful if you have images to match against. Previous examples have dealt with matching the faces of people crossing the camera against known databases of individuals. A potentially far more valuable practice to enterprise is to dynamically build reference databases consisting of the people who cross the camera. Unfortunately, this is also the practice that riles the populace the most and is rife with potential privacy intrusions.

The increase in the use of CCTV cameras has led to an ever increasing volume of archived video footage. The intelligence in this footage typically remains inaccessible unless appropriately analysed and indexed. Such systems can be used to populate databases of “seen” individuals, thereby enabling searching for specific people of interest to determine if, when and where they have been present. This then allows the collation of data such as how frequently individuals visit your premises, how long they stay and when was the last time the individual visited your premises, as well as which of your locations any individual frequents and which is the most common.

If this functionality is combined with the ability to search and cross- reference against databases of known individuals, for example a subscribed customer database, this can then allow you to build very valuable analytical data on specific individuals thereby enabling you to predict future behaviour and market more specific services and products.

3.4.1         Privacy Considerations

Tread very carefully. Some of the most vocal opposition to the application of face recognition technology results from the capture of biometric data of potentially large numbers of people without their knowledge or consent, especially if the people are then identified and profiled against existing databases. In many jurisdictions around the world, the retention of such data may be in contravention of privacy legislation.

3.5  Analysing Who is Viewing What to Target Your Advertising

There have been many examples in recent months of retail and advertising organisations using technology to determine the approximate age and gender of people entering premises or viewing advertising walls. Though not technically face recognition, it is still worth mentioning here as often the distinction between the two uses is blurred. The premise is simple: such solutions can count the number of people watching an advert at any given time, and even estimate their age, dwell time, sex and race. While providing invaluable information for the advertiser, it can also allow them to dynamically change the adverts in real time to more appropriately target the demographic of the current viewer(s). Such solutions are increasingly being deployed in Japan and it is only a matter of time until they are more widely considered in Europe and North America.

3.5.1         Privacy Considerations

The key consideration here is that this form of technology is not actually identifying anybody or extracting personally identifiable information. There does appear to be some opposition to this, though none of it very vocal or serious. It is difficult to see any infringement of privacy and often may be advantageous to the consumer as advertising may be more specifically tailored to their needs.

3.6  Matching People on Your Premises with Social Media Accounts

Both Google and Facebook have acquired face recognition technology companies over the past year. Facebook’s users, for example, publish over 300 million photos onto the site every day, thereby making Facebook the owner of the largest photographic database in the world.

Facebook is already trialling a new service called Facedeals which enables its users to automatically check in at participating retail sites equipped with specially enabled cameras. In order to entice users to participate, the participating retailer can offer special deals to Facebook users when they arrive. The flow of information can be bi-directional. Such automatic check-in data coupled with the users’ manual checkins can be used by Facebook to hone their profile of individuals allowing them to target users with more relevant advertising. The system is entirely voluntarily, and the reference sets searched by retailers only contain photos of users who have opted into the service.

3.6.1         Privacy Considerations

Making data from social media sites available to other commercial organisations is a potential privacy minefield and should only ever be done with users’ consent. Defining these as opt-in services is exactly the right way forward. Likewise the profiling of users of social media sites based upon automatic tagging of images uploaded to those sites should be strictly controlled and only enabled on an opt-in basis. The privacy concerns over such activities have recently been very aptly illustrated by Facebook’s withdrawal of its controversial auto-tagging feature from use in Europe after pressure from privacy campaigners and regulators.

4  Social Media, Cloud Computing and Face Recognition

Dr. Joseph J. Atick of the International Biometrics and Identification Association has written a thought-provoking paper entitled “Face Recognition in the Era of the Cloud and Social Media: Is it Time to Hit the Panic Button?”. The paper raises several interesting points that merit mention here. In it Dr. Atick argues that the convergence of several trends including the:

  • High levels of accuracy now attainable by face recognition algorithms.
  • Ubiquity of social networking with its inherent large photographic databases.
  • Availability of cheap computer processing and the advent of cloud computing.

…coupled with the fact that “face recognition occupies a special place [within the family of biometrics in that] it can be surreptitiously performed from a distance, without subject cooperation and works from ordinary photographs without the need for special enrolment…” is “ … creating an environment … that threatens privacy on a very large scale…”.

One of the main premises of the paper is that this issue “… will require the active cooperation of social media providers and the IT industry to ensure the continued protection of our reasonable expectations of privacy, without crippling use of this powerful technology”.

5  Can All This be Done Ethically? (What About Privacy?)

Can organisations ethically make use of face recognition technology to increase efficiencies and drive revenue, whilst respecting and preserving privacy and maintaining the trust of their clientele and society?

The premise of “privacy-by-design” should be used to ensure that privacy is considered from the outset of any deployment of face recognition technology. In fact, the European Union’s 22-month Privacy Impact Assessment Framework (PIAF) project advises that “Privacy impact assessments should be mandatory and must engage stakeholders in the process” for all biometric projects.

Reputable organisations such as the Biometrics Institute have gone so far as to publish invaluable privacy charters to act as a “…good executive guide operating over a number of jurisdictions…” which should be reviewed and seriously considered before any deployment of biometric technology.

Some of these fundamental principles are outlined below within context of the subject matter of this article and specifically within the context of commercial use of the technology. These will not necessarily apply when discussing matters of public safety, law enforcement and national security.

5.1  Proportionality

A fundamental principle of privacy concerns the limitation of the collection of data to that which is necessary. Organisations should not collect more personal information than they reasonably need to carry out the stated purpose. Biometric data by its very nature is sensitive and absolute assurance must be provided that it will be managed, secured and used appropriately. However, a key consideration in the use of this technology should be proportionality; is the collection of such sensitive data justified for the benefit realised?

5.2  Educate and Inform

People on the whole generally resent not being informed, especially in matters that involve them. History is littered with IT projects that have failed because key stakeholders were not involved from the outset, were not sufficiently informed and whose buy-in to the process was not obtained. Customers are one of the most important stakeholders and these issues are even more critical when dealing with their personal and biometric data.

There is a very interesting video on YouTube that illustrates this point very nicely. It is filmed by a man with a camera walking around filming random strangers without explanation. The reaction is predictably always negative and sometimes hostile. The message the video is trying to make is obvious: most people do not approve of being videoed, so why do we so readily accept surveillance cameras? The message that comes across is actually clearer: People object when they do not understand intent, purpose or benefit to themselves. The cameraman offered no messages of explanation of his intent, even when challenged. Objection was guaranteed.

5.3  Be Truthful and Accurate when Describing the Business Purpose and Benefit

As part of the process of informing, organisations should also be direct and open in disclosing not only the existence of the systems, but the scope, intent and purpose of the solutions. Why are you utilising an individual’s biometric data? What benefit does it serve? What is the scope of the use of this data?

Importantly stay well clear of “scope creep”. All too often it is tempting to start using data once you have it for other than the stated intended purpose for which it was collected. Such endeavours will inevitably lead to loss of trust.

5.4  Provide Benefit to the Customer

Simply understanding the scope, purpose and intent of a system generally will not be sufficient to garner acceptance of the system. While people are generally astute enough to realise that businesses are in the business of making money, they’ll want to know what is in it for them. What is their benefit?

An example with which most of us will be familiar are grocery store loyalty or “club” cards. Whilst we all understand the objective of the grocery store is to profile and analyse our spending in order to better market to us, a majority of us still subscribe in order to receive the enticements and benefits on offer.

Within the context of face recognition, Facebook’s Facedeals programme demonstrates this principle nicely. Users understand the benefit to Facebook and the retailer, yet they still may choose to opt in to the programme because there is a clear and discernible benefit for them to do so as well, namely targeted discounts and offers at retail outlets.

This is also affirmed by a survey in 2012 by IATA which finds that “… most travellers are receptive to the idea of using biometrics within the border control process.” Why? Because there is clear and discernible benefit to them in the form of a more efficient passenger process and increased levels of security.

5.5  Seek Consent and Operate on an Opt-in Principle Where Appropriate

Biometric enrolment into such systems should not be mandatory. Individuals should be allowed the ability to opt-in, with an opt-out status being the default. Clearly this is not always feasible when considering people in public places the crossing cameras. However, if they are being identified against reference sets, the individuals in the reference sets should be there only with consent. Automatic enrolment into reference sets or biometric databases should involve the consent and approval of those enrolled.

Importantly, people should not be penalised should they choose not to opt-in; they should still be allowed a mechanism of transacting and conducting their business.

The recent decision by the UK Department of Education to prohibit schools from taking pupils’ fingerprints or other biometric data without gaining parents’ permission is a prime example of a potential backlash when such systems are made mandatory without providing any alternative mechanism of transacting. In many cases in UK schools, students were left with no mechanism of buying their school lunch unless they enrolled into a biometric system.

6  Summary

The accuracy of face recognition has increased dramatically. Retailers and other commercial organisations are investigating ways to exploit this technology to increase revenues, improve margins and enhance efficiency. Social media companies own the largest photographic databases in existence and are under pressure from shareholders to find ways to monetise these assets. As these explorations gather pace, so does the discontent of privacy advocates.

This article has outlined a number of ways face recognition can be used by enterprise and highlights potential privacy issues. Is it possible to ethically use face recognition technology and respect privacy? This will only be possible if enterprise maintains the trust and respect of its customers. Open and honest discourse is the best manner in which to achieve this. This should be accompanied by delivering real benefit to all parties involved in a manner that also empowers the customer; nobody should be forced to enrol into biometric systems or be disenfranchised from refusing to do so.

How far is too far? History has shown that there is no absolute answer to such questions. The exact location of the line to be crossed is always a factor of and changes with the times we live in. History has also shown, especially as it pertains to technology, that it is next to impossible to put the genie back into the bottle once released. It is now the collective responsibility of all to ensure the proper and ethical use of this technology in a manner that delivers the maximum benefit. This will require the active cooperation of social media, enterprise, the IT industry and civil liberty groups to ensure the continued protection of our reasonable expectations of privacy without crippling the use of this powerful technology. In the end, the people have the loudest voice. If enterprise crosses the line, customers will pass judgement with their wallets. 

7  About the Author

Carl is the founder of Allevate Limited (http://allevate.com), an independent consultancy specialising in market engagement for biometric and identification solutions. With over 20 years’ experience working in the hi-technology and software industry globally, he has significant experience with identification and public safety technologies including databases, PKI and smartcards, and has spent the past 10 years enabling the deployment of biometric technologies to infrastructure projects. Carl started working with biometrics whilst employed by NEC in the UK and has subsequently supported NEC’s global and public safety business internationally.

Residing in the UK, Carl was born and raised in Canada and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree on Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Toronto.

You can download a PDF copy of this article by clicking this link.

 

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[i] http://biometrics.nist.gov/cs_links/face/mbe/MBE_2D_face_report_NISTIR_7709.pdf
Multiple Biometric Evaluation (2010) Report on Evaluation of 2D Still Image Face Recognition
Patrick J. Grother, George W. Quinn and P. Jonathon Phillips

[ii]http://allevate.com/blog/index.php/2012/07/17/advances-in-face-recognition-technology-and-its-application-in-airports/
Advances in Face Recognition Technology and its Application in Airports
Carl Gohringer,  Allevate Limited,
July 2012

[iii]http://www.ibia.org/download/datasets/929/Atick%2012-7-2011.pdf
Face Recognition in the Era of the Cloud and Social Media: Is it Time to Hit the Panic Button?
Dr. Joseph Atick
International Biometrics and Identification Association

[iv] http://www.piafproject.eu/

[v] http://www.biometricsinstitute.org/pages/privacy-charter.html
Privacy Charter
Biometrics Institute

[vi] http://www.iata.org/publications/Documents/2012-iata-global-passenger-survey-highlights.pdf
2012 IATA GLOBAL PASSENGER SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS
The International Air Transport Association (IATA)


“From grainy CCTV to a positive ID: Recognising the benefits of surveillance”

Interesting article in London’s Independent newspaper on CCTV surveillance and face biometrics.

Especially interesting is the view of the combination of biometrics over CCTV with artificial intelligence and behavioral recognition, as this does appear to be the way things are moving.

I agree that biometrics, and especially face recognition, can provide huge benefit to society. I also agree that there is a certain level of concern and distrust by large swathes of the population, some of it well-founded, and some of it based on misperception and incorrect knowledge.

In either case, I think it is dangerous to simply dismiss these concerns and objections simply because we feel “we know best”. I believe society can be much better off with the well placed and controlled use of this technology, but I also believe that we should be working with the civil liberties groups rather than fighting them. Ultimately, these systems need to be accepted if they are to succeed, and in order for this to happen, the public has to better understand the benefit to themselves, and have trust in the people using them.


UK Schools banned from fingerprinting pupils without parental consent

The UK Department of Education has announced that schools will no longer be permitted to take pupils’ fingerprints or other biometric data without gaining parents’ permission.

I am a firm believer in the use of biometric technology to further public safety and efficiency.

However, a key consideration in the use of this technology should be proportionality; is the collection of such sensitive data justified for the benefit realised?

Biometric data by its very nature is sensitive and absolute assurance must be provided that it will managed, secured and used appropriately. Given this, the consent of those whose data will be captured should be sought, and the use of such systems should not be mandated without such consent (with caveats for government, law-enforcement and public safety deployments).

Minors, by definition, are unable to supply consent, so the responsibility to do so (or to withhold consent) must fall upon the parents AFTER they have been given the opportunity to ensure they are satisfied that their child’s data is appropriately safeguarded and all privacy concerns have been considered within the context of the benefit to their child.

I absolutely applaud this move.


Man Films People in Public. Interesting Statement on Surveillance and Privacy 2

A very interesting piece to spark debate regarding safety versus privacy.

WARNING: There are one or two minor instances of less than desirable language, mainly due to the state of annoyance of those being videoed.

I do not believe (though I’m not a legal expert) that the person filming did anything illegal, yet people clearly took offence at his actions. The point the cameraman is obviously trying to make is why then do people so willingly accept being recorded by surveillance cameras?

I think the main point this film misses, in my opinion, is that people do not understand the purpose or intent of the cameraman’s actions, and they then assume malfeasance, which then understandably provokes a negative response.

In contrast, for the most part, most people understand the intent and purpose of a surveillance camera in a public place (such as a store or train station): to protect public safety.

The main lesson to be learnt from this (in my opinion) is the importance of education and awareness, and ensuring your users / key stakeholders are aware of proceedings and bought into the concept from the outset.

Thoughts or comments?


SITA and NEC announce automated border control partnership

NEC Europe, leaders in biometric technology and SITA, the air transport IT specialist, announced an agreement to jointly provide an automated border control (ABC) gate solution. It incorporates sophisticated biometrics technology for use at immigration control points at airports in the European Union. The agreement comes as EU member states implement recommendations to move to self-service border control using ABC gates.

The speed and accuracy of this SITA/NEC automated border control gate helps speed up passenger flows at border control checkpoints while improving security and resource management. It incorporates face recognition, and optionally fingerprint verification, against e-passport data. Passengers can be processed through the SITA/NEC ABC gate in ten seconds or less

“SITA has significant experience in dealing with the challenges facing border control authorities around the globe and automated border control gates are recognized as a potential solution to the combined goals of improving the passenger journey and increasing border security,” said Dan Ebbinghaus, SITA Vice President, Government Solutions. “Working with NEC, our ABC gates combine SITA’s air transport industry experience and market knowledge with the fastest and most accurate face recognition software in the market. This combination will provide significant benefits to border control and airport authorities.”

ABC gates are less resource intensive as it only requires manual intervention by an immigration officer in rare cases when a match is unsuccessful. This frees up border security staff for other activities. In addition to the improved traveler experience, reduced waiting times can attract more airlines and increased revenue for the airport authority.

A core element in this ABC solution is NEC’s “NeoFace” face recognition algorithm which provides speed, accuracy and performance regardless of the database size and image quality. NEC face recognition technologies were ranked No. 1 in the MBE Still-Face Track in 2010 carried out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security.

Chris de Silva, Vice President IT Solutions, NEC, said: “NEC has a long history in innovation and with NeoFace we have extremely fast and accurate face recognition software, ideal for security applications. We have incorporated our software in a variety of security-based applications, but by integrating it into this new ABC gate, we believe it will significantly improve the efficiency of processing people through control checkpoints.”

He further added: “SITA has a wealth of experience as an IT integrator in the air transport industry and we are well-placed with our combined expertise to deliver a market-leading ABC solution across Europe.”


Western Identification Network Selects NEC for Criminal AFIS Across 8 US States

NEC Corporation of America announced that it has been awarded a multiyear contract with the Western Identification Network, Inc. (WIN) to modernize WIN’s multistate criminal identification system across 8 US states.

WIN is a non-profit organisation that provides identification services to law enforcement in: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and California (as an interface member).

WIN has been a long-standing customer of NEC America, and this contract was re-competed last year.

The re-award of the contract to NEC is a testament to the skill and efforts of their team in Sacramento, and the quality of the NEC AFIS solutions.

Interestingly, NEC is providing this capability to WIN as a service, thereby eliminating the need for any upfront capital expenditure, and has been doing so long before “cloud” became fashionable.  The solution is entirely owned by NEC and hosted in NEC data centers.

 


Does turning off the Iris system at Manchester and Birmingham represent a failure of biometrics? 2

News that the Iris biometric gates at Manchester and Birmingham airports have been turned off has been widely reported. (BBC: Eye scanners at England airports turned off, Register: Two UK airports scrap IRIS eye-scanners)

The comments that this represents a failure of biometric systems started to fly almost immediately.air travel

  • “Multi-million pound eye scanners, billed as a key tool in securing Britain’s borders, have been scrapped.”
  • “…the technology has been beset by problems,…”

… are typical of the comments and headlines making their rounds.

I admit the gates were not perfect and did require some getting used to in order to navigate your way through quickly.

But I think the systems were far from a failure, and the reality is a little bit more subtle than the headlines may suggest.

Let’s not forget the system was originally introduced in 2004, initially as a pilot.  At this time, such use of Iris technology was fairly innovative.  That the footprint of the pilot was gradually extended and became a permanent system is indicative that the system was fairly well received. The fact that over 380,000 people have voluntarily enrolled (myself included) makes it difficult to argue that the system is derided.

In my opinion, the turning off of the system at these two locations is more in line with a planned phasing out of this particular solution, for some rather more mundane reasons:

  1. The system  no longer fits border-automation strategy in the UK  moving forward. It has largely been replaced by the momentum to accommodate EU e-Passports holders,whose passports hold an electronic copy of their face photographic.
  2. As innovative as the technology was in 2004, it is now woefully out-of-date. Iris technology has moved on leaps-and-bounds in the 8 years since (as demonstrated by the Iris-at-a-distance  e-gate solutions for departing passengers at Gatwick airport). The initial investment undoubtedly has long since been written off, and the technology needs a refresh.
  3. The initial deployment was meant to be limited, and the contract has undoubtedly been extended numerous times. A complete and expensive technology refresh (as is required) without an open and competitive re-tender would undoubtedly not rest on firm legal ground.
  4. The business model was never well thought out. It is completely funded by the UK government and can be used by any nationality completely free of charge.

This Iris system is intended for pre-registered Trusted Travellers, who are pre-vetted before they can use the system. At point of use, it is a 1:n Iris check and no travel documents are required.

Since the system has been deployed, most European Union (EU) nations have deployed e-Passports and an ever-increasing percentage of the EU population is now carrying a chip passport. The Iris gates have been gradually been superseded by a new breed of e-Gates that:

  • are for EU passport holders only.
  • do not require pre-enrolment.
  • perform a 1:1 face check against the JPG on the passport chip.

These gates are now being widely deployed at UK ports of entry and seemingly form the backbone of the government’s strategy for automated passenger clearance. This is only natural, as by far the bulk of passengers entering the UK are EU citizens.

If the remaining Iris gates are end-of-life’d, this will clearly leave a hole in the border automation strategy, mainly those passengers that:

  • are not EU citizens.
  • are EU citizens but do not yet have an e-passport.

Arguably, the second of the two will become less of a problem as time passes, as holders of older passports have their passports renewed.

The former, however, will form a minority of arriving passengers, and the business case for the government to provide a free-to-use Trusted Traveler system remains vague. More likely than not, any replacement system  will take the form of a paid subscription requiring a pre-enrollment with vetting.

Ideally, given the limited space available airports, the best scenario would involve these passengers using the same physical e-gates as EU passport holders.

In my view, allowing these systems to reach their end-of-life is not an argument for the failure of biometrics deployed at the border. The fact that a system that was only ever meant to have a limited deployment lasted this long and was only replaced by a government strategy that is more harmonised across EU nations, is a testament to the value this technology provides.

Thank you project IRIS, but I won’t miss you. I use the new e-Passport e-Gates now.


Biometrics in Banking

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Man using iris biometrics to authenticate to ATMTurkey, BruneiNigeria and Poland are just some of the countries that have already announced biometric ATMs, for example. The use of biometrics at the till for payment is also on the rise.

Some cite the fact that there has not been a massive up-take in the use of biometrics in consumer facing applications as evidence that the technology does not yet function to an adequate level of performance. Every large biometric deployment deployment I have been involved in has entailed rigorous and exhaustive testing to clearly demonstrate accuracy performance against clearly and aggressively pre-defined test parameters, in real-world environments, using customer data; I don’t expect financial customers would be any less arduous.

I do agree that lab testing / data is insufficient, and solution providers who are unwilling or unable to demonstrate predictable and repeatable accuracy SLAs in real-world environments should be treated with caution.

Is a biometric system fallible? Yes. The question is, is it less fallible then existing precautions already in place, and does the deployment of such a system, in simple financial terms, demonstrate a clear ROI. Again, the answer is: Yes.

Rather, I believe that the thus far reluctance in Western societies to deploy such systems en masse for consumer identification is more due to the banks’ concern of how such systems will be perceived by their clientele; the UK populace, for example, is ever suspicious of Big Brother, their governments and large institutions.

However, these “perception barriers” are already lowering, and there is mounting evidence that public opposition, where clear benefit is realised, is eroding.

Banks are now increasingly becoming aware of the value of biometric identification, of both their internal staff and their external clientele, especially in the area of high net-worth individuals and high-value transactions, and I expect we will see many exciting developments in identification solutions for this market.


On Biometric Suppliers Publishing Accuracy Figures 2

Of late there have been repeated calls on Twitter for biometric suppliers to publicly release statistics pertaining to the performance of their biometric algorithms, specifically False Accept Rates (FAR) and False Reject Rates (FRR).

Whilst not a response to those calls, this post is in part motivated by them.

Those repeatedly calling for the release of these figures know in advance that their calls will not be heeded. As they are already well-versed in the technology, they already understand the reasons why. Yet I believe they persist so they can cite the non-responsiveness of suppliers as “evidence” that the technology does not work.

Let’s examine why suppliers keep this information secret.

1. THEY DON’T

I have been involved in negotiating multiple contracts for deployment of biometric technology, ranging from large government infrastructure programmes, through to enterprise access control solutions. I can emphatically state that in every one of these instances, the customer has been absolutely fully aware of the performance metrics of the technology they are deploying, from accuracy through to HW requirements. In fact, before securing any contract, it is very common for the supplier to have to benchmark their technology on customer supplied data, and often the adherence to pre-defined accuracy SLAs is written into contract, with penalties for non-performance.

2. There is no single correct answer

Anybody versed in biometrics knows that the answer is almost always “It depends”. The accuracy is dependent upon multiple factors, many of which will be under the control of the customer, not just the supplier, such as:

      – Quality of the data being matched against
      – Representative population
        – Environmental conditions

     

          – Performance required
          – Budget

      Again, required levels of accuracy will often be pre-agreed with the client, and it is often down to a matter of how much budget the client has available. Faster and / or more accurate will require more computing power, and the determination is often down to a cost benefit analysis.

      3. It is Competitive Confidential Information

      Accuracy of biometric technology can pose a strong competitive advantage, and suppliers often don’t want this information to be in the public domain (or more specifically, available to their competitors). Though the release of this information is often required, for example to prospective clients, it will almost always be under a non-disclosure agreement.

      4. There is no Commercial Reason to do so

      Suppliers, like anybody, don’t like having their time wasted. They’ll apply their resources to those who wish to engage with them seriously, and as mentioned above, they will have no problem in releasing the information as required. A car salesman will spend his or her resources on the individual who wants to buy a car, and ignore the tire kickers.

      My Point

      To only ever argue the facts on one side of a debate to follow a predefined agenda generally results in a loss of credibility. The irony is that people who do so often have valid concerns or issues that quite rightly should be aired and considered, but end up falling by the wayside.

      These are my own personal opinions, and not necessarily the opinions of any suppliers I may happen to work with.


      Is the Head of UK Border Force being made a Scapegoat?

      Pressure mounts on Theresa May, and Brodie Clark steps down, citing constructive dismissal.

      Clark states “Despite pressure to reduce queues, including from ministers, I can never be accused of compromising security for convenience.”

      Did Brodie Clark exceed his authority?, or is he being made as a scapegoat?, or is this simply a breakdown of internal communication, with both sides believing they are right?

      The story continues…


      UK BA Suspensions

      air travelThe news last week that Brodie Clarke and Graeme Kyle were suspended from the UK Borders Agency following claims that identity checks were relaxed during busy periods at Heathrow raises some interesting questions.

      Without passing any judgement, I understand in part both why there may have been pressure to do so,  and the government’s decision to undertake suspensions.  The latter is easier to address. Whatever concerns may have existed, freedom to exercise authority cannot fly in the face of direct ministerial guidance.

       

      Having said that, I’m sure the reasons for doing so were well intentioned, and may have resulted from trying to meet conflicting requirements, mainly ensuring:

      • High security and appropriate passenger screening.
      • Passenger throughput and avoidance of queues / delays.

      While I’m not close to the environment in question, at initial glance it appears that the former requirement may have been sacrificed to an extent to ensure the latter during busy periods.

      Delays and queues, in a very real and commercial sense, cost money, and it is easy to quantify exactly how much. So it appears the dilemma faced was the age old one, being : “What is an acceptable cost for increased security?”

      It appears that some at least felt the benefit delivered did not warrant the disruption to existing processes. Unfortunately it also appears that the decision was taken without due process and consultation.

      This situation  highlights the importance of understanding the overall cost of any new security system (which invariably is significantly higher than the cost of procuring it), and the benefits it delivers. Invariably, any system will have an impact on existing workflows, and if carefully designed, should deliver an improvement in workflow in addition to an increase in security.


      Biometric security: More bottom-line benefits, less James Bond 1

      Biometric security: More bottom-line benefits, less James Bond

      Carl Gohringer December 03, 2003

      Bond movies will always be associated with state-of-the-art technology, but few of the products he uses or encounters ever make it into the real world.

      A car that turns into a submarine might be nice to have or an umbrella that transforms into a rope ladder useful on the odd occasion, but their uses in everyday life are limited.

      There is one exception to the James Bond rule – biometrics – the technology that uses unique, physical geometry to identify and authenticate individuals.

      According to market research group Frost & Sullivan, the biometrics market will reach a phenomenal $2.05 billion by 2006 (it was valued at just $93.4 million last year).

      Concrete evidence for the growth in biometrics is starting to proliferate. The Home Office has announced that it is planning to install biometrics in 10 UK airports by the middle of next year to assist immigration control. The Nationwide Building Society is running extensive biometrics tests using iris scans in place of PINs at cash machines. Most recently, the Home Secretary announced that national ID cards – to be phased in over the next five years – will incorporate biometric data access via fingerprint recognition.

      However, for most organisations, there are two understandable questions that need to be answered before biometric identification will reach the boardroom agenda:

      • “When budgets are tight, what is the business case for investing in yet more security technology?”
      • “Aren’t there fundamental drawbacks with biometric technology?”

      The second issue is currently the source of most controversy in the media. For years films such as Minority Report have presented a rather superficial interpretation of biometrics. Eyes have been gouged out to gain access to computer networks and “fake” or severed fingers used to access a building.

      The reality is far less dramatic. As the use of biometrics becomes more common place, people will realise that the risk is no greater than being forced to reveal a password or to hand over an access swipe card. Indeed, the risk is much less, thus representing an improvement over and above the existing solution already in place. In fact, one of the key benefits of biometrics is that even if an ‘identity’ such as an access card or password is stolen, without the correct authenticating biometric, access will be denied. The same applies to the sharing of passwords, helping businesses and organisations control who can and cannot access certain areas.

      In addition to the physical risk, with biometrics comes the perceived threat of ‘Big Brother’, with concerns of data compilation and movement monitoring. While there is no escaping the fact that in the wrong hands this could be the case, in reality the threat is no greater than your bank recording the cash points you have accessed, mobile phones being used to track your whereabouts, a supermarket using loyalty cards to track your spending patterns or in fact, a security company monitoring the comings and goings of staff via CCTV.

      There is no doubting that to dispel the notion of a Big Brother state an education programme is needed to highlight the benefits of biometric security (e.g. the ability to protect a person’s identity, the near elimination of passport fraud and the ability to store important data without the threat of unauthorised access). However, the greatest support will be won once biometric security is fully integrated into daily processes, whether logging on to the network at work or withdrawing cash without the threat of skimming from a cash machine.

      The business case for biometrics, once explained, clearly demonstrates three primary reasons as to why a business should adopt biometrics:

      • To improve an organisation’s security by providing positive identification of individuals accessing your premises and networks
      • To save large sums of money by eliminating user provisioning and password management
      • To increase usability and convenience to staff

      Robust security

      What’s the point of spending a vast amount of money protecting and securing your networks if you still can’t positively identity who is accessing them? Obviously none but this is exactly what most companies are currently doing.

      Standard corporate user IDs and passwords used to govern the physical and virtual access to a company and / or network tend to follow the same format. The most common being the first letter of the user’s first name and the whole of their surname for a username i.e. cgohringer for Carl Gohringer. The bottom line for a business is that IDs can generally be cracked with one or two educated guesses. So assuming there is little or no security around IDs, a company’s security depends solely on the strength of passwords.

      Again, if you know a little about the people whose passwords you are trying to guess, it often does not take much to figure it out. There are plenty of available password cracking utilities easily accessible on the Internet to help you out.

      The question is how big an issue are ID/password breaches? It’s difficult to be precise, but we do know that 60-70% of hacking attacks have an internal source (i.e. are conducted by people who know something about each other and for whom, ID/password theft would be relatively simple). And, to give you an idea of the financial impact, last year 39% of Fortune 500 companies suffered an electronic security breach at an average cost of $50,000.

      Biometrics tackle this problem by providing a truly unique individual identifier. If access to either a building or network is controlled by a smartcard containing biometric templates, you can be sure that only the valid owner of the card will be able to access those resources. Access rights to different buildings and rooms can also be set – via the smartcard – for each individual; and with emails increasingly being used as legally binding documents, biometrics can guarantee identity by requiring the user to supply their fingerprint when digitally signing them.

      Ant Allen, research director at analyst house, Gartner Group, sums up the benefits of biometric human authentication: “It is unique to the individual, not something that somebody else decides will be your password, shared secret or token. Passwords can be learnt by various means and tokens can be stolen, but biometrics cannot.”

      Increased convenience, less money wasted

      The ID/password combination is also inconvenient for staff and financially inefficient for companies to manage.

      Just think about the number of passwords you may have to remember in a given day: the password for your office network; the number to access voicemail on your phone; the ‘unlock’ code for your PDA and so on.

      Inevitably, passwords are forgotten or compromised on a daily basis, which results in the IT department being pestered for a new code. The cost of maintaining passwords is costly and with this in mind, the ROI on biometrics is commonly realised in less than a year. IT staff are then freed up to focus on other, potentially revenue-generating issues.

      In place of this often forgotten, easily hacked, regularly shared password, a biometric smartcard gives employees single-sign-on access to the corporate network, which eliminates the need to remember numerous passwords and PINs and removes the cost of managing them for the IT department.

      The present and future of security

      The benefits of biometrics can potentially run much deeper. For example, many public sector organisations see biometrics as a useful tool for improving customer service. In a hospital environment, facial recognition can identify a patient on arrival and ensure their medical records are ready for when they arrive at reception, enabling them to be instantly directed to the appropriate ward.

      However, the purpose of this piece is to examine the impact on bottom line. In this respect, the case for biometrics is extremely powerful. Not only are they an essential tool to prevent your business losing large sums of money to cyber crime, on a day-to-day basis biometrics can dramatically reduce management and administration costs.

      So next time you see James Bond or Tom Cruise battling biometrics in the movies, consider their potential for saving you money and giving your business robust insurance against the financial risk of hacking.


      Using Face Recognition to Monitor Queues and Passenger Flows in Airports 2

      The Business Environment

      It is becoming increasingly important for airlines and airport operators to monitor queue lengths and passenger flows within the airport. Airport operators have invested significant time and money on investigating technologies that can provide useful metrics.

      Understanding your peak and quiet times is essential to enable sufficient and efficient staffing and resourcing. Raising of alerts when unforeseen queues arise is critical for ensuring passenger satisfaction, as well as for ensuring that all SLAs with other stakeholders, such as airlines or government agencies, are adhered to.

      Thus far, a common solution has enabled the tracking of bluetooth enabled devices, such as PDAs and smartphones, which are carried by passengers. The obvious drawback is that only a relatively low percentage of passengers will carry such devices, let alone have the bluetooth on the device activated.

      However, even a penetration rate of 10-15% can provide a large enough sample to give statistical significance. Even so, a solution that provides a much more comprehensive data set and accurate information is needed.

      The Application of Face Recognition

      Using CCTV integrated with face recognition biometrics enables a solution that timestamps when individuals are detected at known camera locations, thereby providing highly accurate information on passenger flow information, such as average and peak queue times:

      • How long on average does it take to go from Checkin to Security?
      • How does this very with time of day?
      • When are the peaks?

      .. as well as providing invaluable insight on how passengers move through the airport:

      • What percentage of passengers move from security to duty free?
      • How many of these are male / female?
      • How long does the average passenger spend shopping?
      • How is this impacted by queue lengths?

      Importantly, no specific passenger identifying information need be recorded, and data can be purged at regular intervals.

      Airports, such as London City, are already deploying such technology.

      How does it work?

      As passengers enter an area of interest and are acquired by a camera, they are automatically enrolled into the system:

      • CCTV cameras enabled with biometric technology are installed at appropriate areas of interest.
      • Passengers are automatically searched against the database of enrolled individuals.
      • The passenger’s record is updated with a camera number and timestamp.
      • The data is automatically aggregated to provide real-time analysis of passenger flows and movements.
      • The database is automatically purged as required at regular intervals. (ie overnight)

      Features

      Using face recognition for such an application can provide many tangible features, including:

      • Aggregated passenger flow data.
      • Average time to move between two or more points.
      • Average time staying in a specific area.
      • Real-time reporting information.
      • Reporting over specific time frames.
      • Historical data comparison.
      • Alerting mechanism (ie, queues too long)

      Benefits

      • Does not capture passenger personal details.
      • Passenger data is purged regularly.
      • There are no data protection issues.
      • Unobtrusive and requires no passenger interaction.
      • Does not require special devices, such as Bluetooth phones.
      • High sample set and penetration rate.

      To Sum

      Airports are complex environments involving multiple stakeholders, often with conflicting requirements. Their efficient operation requires real-time and reliable operational data. It was only a matter of time before operators turned to advanced technologies such as face recognition in order to provide such measurable and quantifiable date.

      Clearly, the more accurate the technology, the more reliable the data on which the operator is basing critical business decisions. Independent studies by NIST clearly indicate that face recognition is now operating at a level of accuracy to enable such decision making.

      The quality of the aggregated data provided by face recognition by far surpasses that of traditional application of technologies to this problem, such as bluetooth monitoring.


      Biometric Trends Improving Performance

      Iris Biometrics

      Major improvements have been realised in the capture capability, enabling Iris capture on the move or from a distance. While this is not an improvement in the SDK matching per say, it has a significant influence on the matching and usability of the system.

      Face Biometrics

      There have been significant and drastic improvements in the quality and accuracy of matching performance in a very short period of time in the last few years. This has been demonstrated by recent NIST tests, as well as other independent testing. It is not anticipated this rate of improvement will level out any time soon; expect in the coming years further drastic improvements.

      Fingerprint Biometrics

      Accuracy is still continually improving, though not at the same drastic rate as face recognition, as this is a much older technology. However, areas where there are major improvements are in the automated processing of latent prints (both in automated ridge, minutiae identification, feature extraction, and in automated 10-print to latent matching). This has the potential to enable enhanced functionality at verification points, such as border crossings, by implementing functionality such as real-time watchlist checking against latent watchlists.

      Multi-Biometric Record Level Fusion

      Another area where developments are aiding in accuracy improvements is multi-biometric fusion, occurring at the record level. Rather than merging multiple candidate lists from multiple biometrics post search, fusing biometrics and biographics in-record has the potential to provide multi-biometric record-level scores. However, this has more of an impact in very large scale identification systems, as opposed to verification systems, or small scale databases, such as watchlist checking.

      Biometric Matching as a Service

      Supported by trends such as cloud computing, data center consolidation, shared infrastructure and virtualisation.
      See here for more.


      Occupy

      While I understand the premise of the “Occupy” demonstrations, I can’t help but feel that they would be more effective if they were also able to propose a solution instead of simply voicing discontent with capitalism.


      Biometrics 2011: Panel Biometric Matching as a Software Service (SaaS)

      I’m looking forward to the Biometrics2011 conference in London next week.

      One of the more interesting presentations is the Biometrics and Identity Matching as a Software Service panel discussion at the end of the last day.

      In my view, this is a topic that is ripe for discussion, given the current levels of indebtedness of our governments.

      With the current wave of austerity sweeping the world’s nations at the moment, most programmes entailing large capital expenditure are out, unless they demonstrate significant return on investment in the same fiscal year; large government IT projects take years to re-coup investment.

      Suppliers are looking at recovering this loss of business by self-financing other business models, and one that is becoming increasingly popular is selling transactional services. Basically this entails moving the up-front investment from the customer to the supplier, as well as the onus to realise the ROI over the life of the programme.

      Such models are increasingly supported by trends such as cloud computing, data center consolidation, shared infrastructure and virtualisation.

      In today’s economic climate, the ability to move an initial large up-front capital expenditure to a long-term annual operating expenditure spread over the life of the programme is understandably attractive to customers.

      On the flip-side, these same economic conditions will make it more difficult for suppliers to structure such deals, and they will remain the preserve of the larger suppliers with pockets deep enough to weather the current economic storm.

      That this business model is attractive to larger government biometric identity programmes is no surprise.

      In fact, this arrangement is nothing new. The Western Identification Network (WIN) is a collaboration of eight US states, and is one of the larger criminal / law enforcement AFIS systems in existence. It is hosted, run and owned by the supplier, with the states paying for match services.

      The UK’s Ident1 Criminal AFIS system is structured in a similar manner.

      Interestingly, the panel members of the Biometrics 2011 panel discussion represent NEC (suppliers of the US WIN system), Northrop Grumman Corporation (suppliers of the UK Ident1 system), and the UK National Police Improvement Agency (customers for the UK Ident1 system), so they should know what they are talking about!


      In the wake of the London riots, is the privacy versus security debate now all but dead?

      Allevate Presenting at Biometrics 2011

      Synopsis

      Recent advances in the accuracy of face recognition are resulting in an explosion of its use, coupled with increasingly vociferous cries from privacy advocates. The benefits from the uses of this technology are clear. But does it enable even further and easier harvesting of private information about us as individuals, without our knowledge or consent? This presentation does not attempt to analyse the adherence of face recognition to the nuances of privacy legislation. Rather, it explores the emerging trends in the application of face recognition, from law enforcement and security / surveillance, through to commercial applications, to enable each of us to form our own views on where the boundary between face recognition and privacy lies.

      Article: Face Recognition: Improved Benefit? Or Erosion of Privacy?


      Face Recognition: Improved Benefit? Or Erosion of Privacy? 6

      [polldaddy poll=5701230]air travel

      A Surveillance Society?

      I’m sat in Heathrow waiting for an early morning departure for a business trip. Sipping my coffee, I look casually around trying to spot the cameras. They’re cleverly hidden. Am I being watched? Doubtful. Am I being recorded? Almost certainly.

      This is a daily fact of life for most Londoners. It’s widely known that our city is one of the most heavily recorded in the world; a fact that is consistently debated and often criticized. Yet for all the discussion, the fact remains. We don’t like it, but we accept it. Why? Personally, my true dislike is more of the necessity of this fact rather than the fact itself.

      Carol Midgley wrote an excellent opinion piece (The Times, Sat 27th August, 2011) entitled “I’ll pick Big Brother over a hoody every time”. I recommend a read. Though clearly biased, and seemingly designed to stoke the debate with anti-CCTV campaigners, her conclusion was simple: In the wake of the London riots, the privacy-versus-necessity debate of CCTV is now all but dead. Do I agree? Let me come back to this.

      Face Recognition and CCTV

      Enter Biometrics. Face recognition technology to be precise. This technology, along with the wider field of video analytics, is set to transform CCTV surveillance. Video analytics is arguably a nascent technology, but face recognition on the other hand is here. Ready to deploy. Now. A recent study by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrated that the accuracy achieved by the first place vendor (NEC) can provide clear and measurable benefits to a range of applications, including surveillance.

      It seems that every new technology brings a realisation of new benefits and efficiencies, countered by a plethora of malicious uses of the technology by the less desirable elements of our global society, quickly followed by counter-measures and protections. This is a saga that we are all already familiar with in our daily lives. Examples range from the severe and extreme of nuclear medicine versus atomic weapons, through to online credit-card shopping versus financial identity theft. I’ve recently had a credit card used for over £3,500 of illegal transactions. Though this incident was highly inconvenient and disruptive to my life, I did not hesitate to accept a replacement card. Not to do so would have unacceptably disenfranchised me from modern society.

      Back to face recognition. It hasn’t taken long for business minded technology companies to devise a whole range of new uses of this technology, all focussed on delivering bottom line business benefit. Almost as quickly arrive the cries of the privacy advocates. I’ve been reading with interest the sudden explosion in main stream news over the past few months highlighting new uses of face recognition, while very carefully considering the concerns vociferously raised by the technology’s opponents. A key fact often cited is that the technology is not 100% accurate. Even an excellent identification rate of 97% can produce a significant number of false identifications and / or missed identifications in a large sample population.

      Let’s take a look at some examples.

      Public Safety and Policing

      While sat here in the terminal waiting for my flight, I’ve already grudgingly accepted that images of me sipping my coffee are almost undoubtedly being recorded. I may not be aware, however, that when I passed through security my photograph was taken. This wasn’t immediately obvious or openly advertised, but it happened. Shortly, my photograph will be taken again when I board my aircraft and compared to the photograph taken at security. International and domestic passengers share a common departure area, and this is done to ensure boarding cards aren’t swapped, thereby potentially enabling an international passenger to transit through to a domestic airport and bypass immigration controls. On a 1:1 verification, false matches are very low. If I’m a legitimate passenger, my concern is that the two photographs do not match, for which the worst case scenario is inconvenience.

      Perhaps the borders agency is also comparing my photograph against a known watchlist of suspect individuals. This nature of deployment is usually used to enhance existing procedures, and not replace them. The system will provide increased security, in turn further protecting my safety while flying. I’m OK with this. Of course, there is also the prospect of misidentifying benign travellers. Though unavoidable, as long as the number of false matches are kept sufficiently low to ensure the cost of dealing with these exceptions doesn’t obliterate the benefit realised from the system, it can be argued that the greater good justifies the inconvenience faced by the occasional innocent passenger while their true identity is verified.

      Upon my arrival at my destination, I may very well be offered the opportunity to use my new e-passport to speed through immigration at one of the many shiny automatic e-Gates springing into operation. In the early stages these definitely were a great benefit, allowing me to march past the long queues of travellers and expedite my passage through the airport. No complaint from me. As long as false matches are lower than what is achieved by a live border guard (which many studies suggest they are), then security should be improved. And false matches only apply to illegal passengers travelling on a false or stolen passport. Exceptions generated by valid travellers who do not match with their passport will generate some inconvenience by necessitating they speak to a live border guard. As e-gates become more commonplace, I predict I’ll just be queuing in front of an automatic barrier instead of a manned immigration booth. However, the efficiencies achieved should enable the border guards to concentrate on more intelligence-led activities, rather than simple rote inspection of passports, thereby increasing security and putting my taxes to more efficient use.

      As I move through the airport, or for that matter in any public location such as a stadium or railway station, law enforcement authorities may be using my captured image to search against a database of suspects. Does this trouble me? Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.

      I’m already being recorded. If I were to commit a crime, then it is likely that the video would be retrieved and officers would try to identify me. This is already happening and I doubt anybody would argue that this is an invasion of privacy. If face recognition technology can assist them with this arduous and tedious task, perhaps by automatically trying to match my face against databases of known offenders, and saving countless hours of police time, I’m all for it. Too bad for the criminal.

      (I was incensed by the meaningless violence and destruction demonstrated during the recent riots in London. Newspaper reports have indicated that the UK’s police will be examining CCTV footage for years to come in their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. I am absolutely in favour of anything that can be done to expedite this process and save police time.)

      But as a law-abiding citizen carrying on with my own business, how do I feel about having my face automatically captured and compared against a watchlist database of “individuals of interest”? There is potential to cause disruption to an individual’s life or place them under undue suspicion if they are falsely identified. That my face is being actively processed rather than just recorded gives more cause to pause and consider.

      Having done this, I am prepared to accept this use case, if the technology is operating at a sufficient level of accuracy to ensure that the chances of being misidentified while conducting my daily activities remains low. I also expect the technology to be deployed wisely in situations where there is demonstrable benefit to public safety, such as at transport hubs, large gatherings, public events or areas of critical national infrastructure.

      Most people already accept that the reality of the world today necessitates certain infringements on our liberties. The introduction of technology is a key tool in the fight against crime. No system is perfect, and the potential for an undesirable outcome of a system should not always result in the abolishment of that system. Few would argue, for example, to abolish our judicial systems and close our prisons to eliminate the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Similarly, the benefits to public safety from face recognition are too great to ignore, though we must continuously strive to minimise the false identifications.

      I agree with Ms. Midgley on this one.

      Commercial Applications

      Most criticism that I have been reading in the press in the past view months appears to be levelled at the widening application of face recognition in business related or commercial applications, not with public safety.

      My flight is about to board, so let’s continue my journey through the terminal. As I saunter to my gate, my attention is caught by an impressive advertising display; a multi-plasma video wall. It was the amazing technology that caught my attention rather than the advert itself. Just as I’m about to glance away, the sunlit beach and blue ocean depicting the under 30’s surfing holiday fades away, to be replaced by a two-for-one spectacle offer, followed by a distinguished gentleman telling me how easy it was for him to “wash that grey away”.

      As I self-consciously stroke the hair at my temples, I wonder: Was this a mere co-incidence? Multiple vendors delivering solutions for advertising have announced technology that can count the number of people watching an advert at any given time, and even estimate their age, dwell time, sex and race. While providing invaluable information for the advertiser, it can also allow them to dynamically change the adverts in real time to more appropriately target the demographic of the current viewer(s). Recent reports in the Los Angeles Times (21st August 2011) suggests that this is already widely deployed in Japan, and is being considered by the likes of Adidas and Kraft in the UK and the US.

      While this is not technically face recognition, it is still worth noting as much of what I have been reading has been lumping the two technologies together. The key consideration here is that this form of technology is not actually identifying anybody, or extracting personally identifiable information. This doesn’t bother me in the least. Businesses have always tried to use whatever edge they can to more tightly tailor their message to their customer’s specific needs and wants. It may even benefit me by alerting me to more relevant products or services.

      What if, on the other hand, the advertiser had negotiated an arrangement with another organisation, for example a social networking site such as Facebook. If they supplied them with an image of my face, along with information on which portion of the advert caught my attention, Facebook might be able to identify me from its database of photographs, enabling them to harvest valuable information about me. While I can see this would present a huge commercial advantage to them, and whomever they chose to sell this information on to, I can only hope that the commercial damage from the backlash of incensed users would outweigh the gain.

      If I have some leisure time while on my business trip, there will doubtlessly be many activities at my destination to occupy me. I may have a quiet drink in a bar, or perhaps take a punt at the tables in the local casino. And yes, face recognition technology is being used even in these places. It’s been reported that bars and clubs are using gender and age distinguishing cameras to count people in and out, and make this information available over mobile phone apps. The youth of today can now determine before they set out which establishment holds their best chance of success. While I am well beyond having any use for this particular application, I can see how this may catch on in certain demographics of society. Any reputable establishment should clearly display such technology is in use and should make no attempt to harvest or make available any personally identifying information. Are all establishments reputable?

      More concerning to me is the increasing use of face recognition by social network sites. Both Google and Facebook are actively exploring uses. Automatic tagging of photographs being uploaded to Facebook is already occurring. Being inadvertently photographed while on my business trip and automatically tagged when the photographer uploads it does not appeal to me, no matter how innocuous my activities at the time may happen to be.

      Recent studies published by Carnegie Melon University demonstrating the potential to use large databases of photographs on social networking sites to glean confidential information should also be a cause for concern. The younger generation of today appear more and more willing to share intimate and private details online, without any thought (in my view) of the longer term or wider ramifications of doing so. This is an issue that is much larger than face recognition, but I can understand the worry that face recognition can help to tie it all together.

      Improved Benefit or Erosion of Privacy?

      When I first entered the biometrics field, I was attracted by the “neatness” factor of the technology, and of the potential for it to deliver benefits to society. I have to admit I paid scant attention to privacy concerns. Over time, as the voices of privacy advocates grew louder and more numerous, I started to listen and then to actively seek out their opinions. I am still a firm believer in this amazing technology, and endeavour to play an active role in its application for the positive transformation of society. However, I am grateful for the messages and insight provided by these campaigners; they have definitely transformed my thinking, and have made me consider much more carefully the application of biometrics.

      From a law-enforcement and public safety viewpoint, face recognition holds great potential to increase the security of our society. By its very nature, our government holds power over us and our society, which is why it is our responsibility to choose our governments carefully. We have no choice but to hold a certain level of trust and faith in our law-enforcement organisations. Our society today contains more checks and balances than ever before, and our politicians our more in-tune with and responsive to the public mood. If this faith breaks down, then so does society.

      In commercial applications, I also believe there is the potential for significant benefit to be realised from face recognition to both the consumer and businesses, but I am more concerned about the potential for abuse. To a certain level, the market will decide if the application of the technology is appropriate or not. Ventures people don’t like will fail. However we cannot always rely on market forces, and it is our collective responsibility to speak out when the need arises. Though it often lags behind, over time legislation keeps up with the advancement of technology. As our society changes with technical innovation, so too will the rules we collectively decide to govern our society. We will settle into an equilibrium reflecting the needs and views of all. But there will be a learning curve, and we will make mistakes along the way. That’s how society works.

      So, does face recognition represent an improved benefit, or an erosion of privacy? I suggest it has the potential to be both. It is everybody’s responsibility to ensure the benefit is worth the price paid. I absolutely believe we must have both the proponents of this technology and the advocators of privacy; we all have a role to play to decide how face recognition will be applied over time.

      The abolishment of either the technology or the voices of those monitoring its use and advocating our privacy would be to the detriment of society.

      Final Thought

      Just before I board my flight, let me leave you with this final thought. Imagine for a moment that a loved one of yours has come to harm. The authorities can use face recognition to aide in their recovery, and / or to ensure that justice is done. Are you concerned with privacy?