A shoplifter warning system popular among UK retailers is about to start testing facial recognition.
Called Facewatch, the system was pioneered by Simon Gordon, the owner of a High Street wine bar, who sought to use CCTV to help identify thieves who were pilfering customers’ belongings in his establishment. He shared it with other store owners and it now has over 10,000 registered users; moreover, the system can upload images to police databases, further helping to fight crime.
Now, Gordon is preparing to integrate facial recognition software so that known thieves and shoplifters can immediately and automatically be identified, sending an alert to system users. The idea is to stop losses by confronting shoplifters and thieves preemptively, perhaps with a simple greeting, which has been shown to reduce such crime.
It’s an innovative solution to a longstanding problem, but it does have hurdles to overcome, particularly with respect to civil rights and privacy concerns. On a broad scale, English, Welsh, and Scottish police have seen controversy over how they have used digital mugshot databases and facial recognition.
Nevertheless, Simon Gordon remains upbeat, predicting to the BBC that the kind of technology he is exploring will soon be widespread and a part of everyday life; and given the benefits it could offer to a range of businesses, there is certainly potential for it to become very popular.
Source: BBC News