The Metropolitan Police of London have announced that they are inviting people to take part in testing technology that would automate the process of facial recognition rather than testing it covertly. The trials will be held near Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square on Monday and Tuesday during the busy holiday season.
This technology is of interest to the drone community, as it is a technology is almost immediately applicable to drone usage – if regulations, and public opinion, allow.
The city of London has invested in Closed Circuit Television or CCTV for decades and the technology is now advancing to the point where thousands if not millions of people will be able be electronically scanned in the hopes of identifying criminals.
In an occasional series of pieces on Surveillance and Security, we have recently written about facial recognition via drones, which some researchers say is still unreliable.
Security is one of the fast growing subsets of commercial drone applications. Having a birds eye view and the ability to move is of great interest to security in places like sporting or political events. Putting security equipment on a drone provides a more flexible solution than traditional camera such as CCTV’s that are fixed to building or poles. Tethered drones provide a particularly stable alternative – one that could provide ideal images but maintain the flexibility of a moveable solution.
CCTV is a dominant market force in security. There are between 4 million and 5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in the U.K., according to a 2016 report from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA). The technology has also been used in the U.S. for decades, but to a lesser degree than in the U.K. In the U.S., these cameras were instrumental in the identification of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
While privacy issues area worldwide issue they are especially thorny in the U.S., as and we have written here -the use of CCTV and other security camera technology on drones will undoubtedly be the subject of deliberation and regulation before widespread adoption.
These images have the ability to be linked into existing databases as is illustrated in concept below using the FBI and local law enforcement as an example.