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 […]

On the Recent Terror Attack in Manchester

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 […]

Merry Christmas from Allevate and Looking Forward to what the ...

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 […]

Could Automating Media Processing Aid the Forensic Investigation into the ...

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 […]

Article: Face Recognition: Profit, Ethics and Privacy

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 […]

“From grainy CCTV to a positive ID: Recognising the benefits ...

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 […]

UK Schools banned from fingerprinting pupils without parental consent

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. “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 […]

Does turning off the Iris system at Manchester and Birmingham ...

Man using iris biometrics to authenticate to ATM
[polldaddy poll=5808478] Turkey, Brunei, Nigeria 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, […]

Biometrics in Banking

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 […]

On Biometric Suppliers Publishing Accuracy Figures

The 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 […]

UK BA Suspensions

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 […]

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

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.


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 […]

In the wake of the London riots, is the privacy ...

[polldaddy poll=5701230] 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 […]

Face Recognition: Improved Benefit? Or Erosion of Privacy?