In 2022 and beyond, Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) will play a key role in the future of global urban development and improving the experience of smart citizens. From personal convenience, to enhanced public safety, the range of applications are wide-ranging:

  • Seamless Customer Experiences – With your face as your credit card, citizens no longer have to leverage cash for payments or worry about a stolen/lost wallet. A secure biometric system makes paying for goods or services effortless – as being pioneered by Amazon Go stores. 
  • Security and Access – Workplaces are beginning to understand the value of the technology, as it can enable the seamless flow of people and facilitate the protection of sensitive locations by restricting access to approved visitors only. Spaces such as building sites, maternity wards and critical national infrastructure can all benefit from this software.
  • Help for Vulnerable Citizens – Facial recognition can be used in smart cities to help identify those at risk; in the case of searching for a missing child or Alzheimer’s patient, FRT can significantly speed up the process.
  • Safer Streets – There is a particular concern about the safety of public streets, especially for women. FRT can prove useful for recognising unusual behaviour and identifying and tracking known offenders throughout the city environment.

Higher standards in 2022

There are potential risks to using facial recognition, such as threats to privacy and violations of rights

As with any technology, there are potential risks to using facial recognition, such as threats to privacy, violations of rights and potential data theft. These concerns are of significant importance and have even forced the hand of some public and private organisations to limit the use of the technology. This calls for thoughtful government regulation moving forward and heightened responsibility for FRT vendors and operators to comply.

Currently, regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are in place to set industry standards and provide ways for individuals to protect their personal data, and by extension their privacy and other human rights, which we are seeing enforced.

Although the industry continues to demand greater certainty from lawmakers it is evident that best practice is emerging from the application of GDPR and its core principles. The use of Privacy Management Programmes and Data Protection Impact Assessments demonstrates the willingness to protect the data rights of citizens and maintain trust and confidence across our communities. A combination of these policies and their application will continue to ensure FRT can be used as a force for good.

Cybersecurity

Users of FRT must be more explicit in its use and set clear measures on individual privacy

As data processing becomes more central to operations in 2022, organisations will need to be more responsive to the evolving cyber threat landscape. For Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) end-users, in particular, securing biometric data will remain a top priority.

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods, and typically seek the most sensitive data to hold at ransom. Vendors must therefore implement the most stringent security measures to protect sensitive data and ensure end-users are working hard to keep on top of the threat.

Customers will also demand more transparency from organisations about how they are using their biometric data – how it is being stored and protected. To garner trust, users of FRT must be more explicit in its use and set clear measures on individual privacy and data protection.