Authorized drivers can now use facial recognition to gain access to the Redstone Arsenal Army outpost in Alabama. The new system is live as of March 15, making Redstone the first (and thus far only) Army post to offer facial recognition. However, Garrison Director of Operations Ron Thomas indicated that they are working to register the employees of the Marshall Space Flight Center in the Automated Installation Entry system.
At Redstone, the facial recognition service will be available to anyone with a Defense Common Access Card who has their face stored in the Defense Manpower Data Center database. Once registered, the system will not take a new photo of the driver, but will instead scan 14 points on that person’s face. That information will then be converted into data that can be cross-referenced with the image in the database to complete the match.
“It identifies critical points — perhaps distance between the center of the eyes, distance from the nose to the chin, distance from the ears to the nose or the eyes — it runs through an algorithm and creates data that can go back and challenge our DMDC database, where the photo is,” explained Thomas. “When it finds enough confirming points, it will pull up your information on our screen, you’ll get a green arrow and you’ll be able to proceed.”
Drivers that want to take advantage of the new option will need to remove hats, masks, and any other coverings that could interfere with the scan, though corrective glasses are still allowed. They must similarly clear their dashboards, windshields, and rear-view mirrors of any decorations and debris. The scanners will be deployed at lane 3 at Gate 1 and lanes 3 and 4 at Gate 9, and will only be available if the driver is the sole occupant of the vehicle.
The system is expected to minimize processing times since drivers will not need to come to a complete stop, nor will they need to hand over an identification card to an attendant. As a result, the contactless solution is also expected to improve health outcomes in the midst of COVID-19. However, those that cannot be identified with a facial recognition scan will still need to present an ID for a manual inspection.
The Department of Defense Facial Recognition Program is still in the pilot phase, and will be improved based on feedback from the Redstone deployment. The Army has previously expressed interest in using facial recognition to monitor its Child Development Centers, and is currently training its facial recognition algorithms using a massive data set of thermal images.
March 15, 2021 – by Eric Weiss