Facial Recognition Deployed at St. Louis High School

DeathtoStock_Wired5Facial recognition cameras have been installed at several entrances of St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis for security reasons. According to an article by Christine Byers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the biometric system is being used in an access control capacity and has the ability to notify staff if unauthorized personnel are on the school grounds.

Students, staff and volunteers have all had their photos uploaded into the Catholic school’s facial recognition database. As an authorized person approaches a door it will automatically unlock. If someone attempts to open a door, but is not recognized by the biometric security camera, they will not only be denied access.

Additionally, key undesirables (sex offenders, disgruntled employees, etc.) can be uploaded into the system as well. When these unauthorized persons are spotted by the cameras an email or text message will be sent to notify designated staff members.

The system described is similar to facial recognition deployments in border control. To have known offenders or undesired personnel placed in a facial recognition database and have notifications sent to security staff when said people are spotted is an excellent way to keep a facility safe, especially one with high throughput.

The use of facial recognition at St. Mary’s is part of an encouraging trend in the biometrics and education market. While some friction has been experienced regarding identity management deployments in schools – particularly in Florida where an incident lead to the statewide banning of student biometric collection – recently we’ve been seeing more and more educational institutions embrace next generation tech like facial recognition.

Biometrics have more applications in schools than simply securing the doors and protecting students. Fingerprint recognition is becoming a common way for students from K-12 to access their cafeteria lunch with enough time to eat it and other modalities, like iris recognition, have been deployed for attendance tracking purposes in Universities.

March 9, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter