Home Government Tech Policy Facial recognition database 'could cost billions'
Facial recognition database 'could cost billions' Featured

The setting up of a national facial recognition database is likely to cost Australia at least hundreds of millions of dollars, but could go into the billions, an expert in the field has told iTWire.

Paul Howie, NEC Australia's general manager of Smart Systems, said the main expense would be on cameras and hardware. There would also be costs involved for software and algorithms that do the actual recognition.

The Australian federal and state governments today agreed to set up a national facial recognition database, using photos from drivers' licences and other data.

Howie was confident that his company's algorithms would identify people with more than 99% accuracy. "Trials with NIST in the US achieved a 99.2% accuracy rate," he said, adding, "when it comes to both speed and accuracy, we're number 1."

He admitted that as the size of a database increased, the probability of false positives also increased. This was managed by limiting the size of the ancillary databases, even if a central database went above 100 million photos.

Howie was upfront about privacy concerns but said decisions on such matters had to be made by society, and not technologists.

A great deal of progress had been made in facial recognition technology since the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 when there were difficulties in identifying people in the crowd, he claimed.

In Boston, facial recognition was attempted after the fact. Now it was being done well in advance. "Say you have 100 cameras in a stadium, then before an event you watch the crowd from a biometric perspective," he added.

Such systems were already in use in other countries, he pointed out; in the US, for example, the federal government and the states had an agreement to share data. NEC has set up facial recognition systems in 40 countries.

Some countries used aggregated systems, while others opted for disaggregated systems; in the latter case, all the data in the distributed systems were not present in the central database.

"This may be needed, say if there are people who are in witness protection programmes," Howie said.

Asked about issues of image quality and image size, which have proved to be stumbling blocks to accurate identification in the past, he said the technology being used now had improved to the extent where a photo from any smartphone was sufficient to provide enough points for identification.

Regarding the angle from which photos were taken, which can often influence the recognition score, Howie said NEC's algorithm worked in two phases: it picked up details from a number of angles and then reconstructed a 3D image for better resolution and visibility.

Regarding costs, he said a stadium the size of the MCG would require expenditure of between $1 million and $1.5 million. A lot of the expense would be for pulling feeds from existing cameras and directing them into a central database.

A system such as the one likely to be required by the Australian government would only be installed in public places like airports and stadiums, Howie said.

As as far as NEC systems were concerned, the company provided processing and storage of images in government data centres behind their firewalls, he said in response to a query.

NEC is currently working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission — a merger of a number of government agencies — to replace its existing fingerprint database and to set up a facial recognition system.

Its competitors in the field are Morpho and Cognitech. The company has already licensed its facial recognition algorithms to a company known as Vision-Box that is setting up arrival and departure gates in airports around Australia.

47 REASONS TO ATTEND YOW! 2018

With 4 keynotes + 33 talks + 10 in-depth workshops from world-class speakers, YOW! is your chance to learn more about the latest software trends, practices and technologies and interact with many of the people who created them.

Speakers this year include Anita Sengupta (Rocket Scientist and Sr. VP Engineering at Hyperloop One), Brendan Gregg (Sr. Performance Architect Netflix), Jessica Kerr (Developer, Speaker, Writer and Lead Engineer at Atomist) and Kent Beck (Author Extreme Programming, Test Driven Development).

YOW! 2018 is a great place to network with the best and brightest software developers in Australia. You’ll be amazed by the great ideas (and perhaps great talent) you’ll take back to the office!

Register now for YOW! Conference

· Sydney 29-30 November
· Brisbane 3-4 December
· Melbourne 6-7 December

Register now for YOW! Workshops

· Sydney 27-28 November
· Melbourne 4-5 December

REGISTER NOW!

LEARN HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A CYBER ATTACK

Australia is a cyber espionage hot spot.

As we automate, script and move to the cloud, more and more businesses are reliant on infrastructure that has the high potential to be exposed to risk.

It only takes one awry email to expose an accounts’ payable process, and for cyber attackers to cost a business thousands of dollars.

In the free white paper ‘6 Steps to Improve your Business Cyber Security’ you’ll learn some simple steps you should be taking to prevent devastating and malicious cyber attacks from destroying your business.

Cyber security can no longer be ignored, in this white paper you’ll learn:

· How does business security get breached?
· What can it cost to get it wrong?
· 6 actionable tips

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Sam Varghese

website statistics

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

Popular News

 

Telecommunications

 

Sponsored News

 

 

 

 

Connect