About Face

Facial recognition is on the verge of prime time

In April 2011, the president of Panama announced his intention to build the largest face recognition surveillance system in the world, based on a successful pilot with FaceFirst. The huge system has since been implemented at Tocumen Airport and various border crossings, processing nearly 20 million live face comparisons per second at peak times.

The remaining two tripping points for the technology are likely keeping it out of prime time. On a mass scale, the server hardware and storage costs can be very high, although I believe they will continue to drop as cloud services become more prevalent. Additionally, F.R. techniques, like city-wide video surveillance, can be controversial — particularly when the data is being used and shared by the government. Opponents point to privacy and possible identity theft concerns.

At least the argument is no longer about how well the technology works.


Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of SecuritySpecifiers.com, enabling interaction with specifiers in the physical security and ITS markets; and Principal Consultant for Gilwell Technology Services. Ray can be reached at ray@SecuritySpecifiers.com, through LinkedIn or followed on Twitter @RayCoulombe.