Facial recognition software is being used regularly in law enforcement agencies.
The technology can analyze a face in a picture and provide police with a positive identification. The next level up from fingerprints, this incredible technology comes with great power and responsibilities.
Cameras are Everywhere
One reason facial recognition technology is so important is because cameras are literally everywhere. When you stop at the ATM, pump gas in the car, or walk into the local department store, cameras are steadily recording your movements. Many crimes are captured on video, but police cannot always identify the people who are involved in the crime. With facial recognition software, the computer can provide them with the match they need. Even when fingerprints are not left behind, cameras and the right software can help police apprehend the criminals involved.
How the Software Works
You can easily change your hair color, and you can even alter the color of your eyes. However, there are certain physical characteristics you really cannot alter. The distance between your eyes, depth of the jaw, and your cheekbone height are a few characteristics that are unique to each individual. Facial recognition software looks at these items in an unidentified picture, compares them with known pictures and provides investigators with a valid match.
The Accuracy of Advanced Systems
Your photo editing software may have rudimentary facial recognition, but what law enforcement uses is highly advanced. The systems are more than 99 percent accurate when they have frontal facial images to work with. There are factors that will decrease accuracy, including poor lighting, the position of the face, makeup, facial hair, glasses and other accessories.
You’re Already on the Grid
You know if you have ever been fingerprinted, and you know what agency collected and catalogued the prints. It could be for a crime, but people are also commonly fingerprinted as part of background investigations for employment. Knowing whether your face is available for comparison is a little trickier. The fact is that you are probably already on the facial recognition grid. Pictures taken on the street can be cross-referenced, and any publicly available picture online can be used for facial recognition.
Greater Crime Solving and Less Personal Security
Critics of facial recognition programs worry about the potential use of power. With so much information available about any given person, the ability to match that information to an individual through facial recognition increases. Privacy is compromised, and anonymity becomes a thing of the past.
There is no doubt that facial recognition software is helping law enforcement solve crimes and make the world a safer place. Critics are pushing for legislation that will protect the privacy of individuals, allowing law enforcement to make use of this technology while also maintain personal security. It will take the laws a little while to catch up with the changing technology, but you can rest assured that it is still helping law enforcement solve crimes in the meantime.
About the Author
Robert Stewart blogs about criminal justice, including new technologies being used to catch criminals. If you are interested in starting a career in criminal justice, you can enroll in an online criminal justice degree at cjonline.uc.edu or www.bu.edu.