Australia is one of the countries that have taken to Biometric security in a big way following the September 11 terror strike in the United States. In a recent article it was mentioned that the New South Wales state government was quietly compiling a database that consisted of a mathematical map of its citizens, with the intention of tracking people with the aid of closed circuit television (CCTV).
In order to prepare this database the state government had provided access to state and federal agencies, raising questions about the ethicality of the program. However, experts say that such steps become necessary in the current scenario of rising security threats from the extremist sections of the society. A similar program to create a unique identification number for each citizen has run into trouble in India because of the possibilities of its misuse.
Facial recognition software is already in use in International airports like the Singapore International Airport, scanning thousands of passengers daily as they disembark from flights coming from various parts of the globe. Even the United States is considering using this technology to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants coming through its porous borders. Although far from perfect, security professionals hope that one day they would be able to track criminals with the help of this technology.
What is Facial Recognition Software?
According to Professor Sowmya Arcot, facial recognition software derives a matrix of numbers based on the facial features of an individual and this data is later used in making a match. In layman’s term facial recognition software is a device that tries to match a photo of a person with the one in the database. In order to make a match it uses parameters like the distance between the eyes, nose, mouth and jaw; outline of the eye socket; location of the nose and eyes; and the cheekbones.
In order to a prepare the database the subject is photographed at different angles and with different expressions; in order to make the procedure fool proof the subject is asked to blink, nod or smile into the camera. Once the photo is taken an algorithm is used to extract unique characteristics that can help in identifying the subject. Other methods include 3-D facial recognition software that captures the contours of the eyes, sockets and nose and uses it to make a successful match.