The prospect of using biometric technologies to identify individuals has been around for a long time. In the past, these solutions often included fingerprint scanning, as it was the easiest and most convenient fool-proof way to ensure individuals are who they say they are for identification purposes. Since fingerprints cannot be replicated, duping an access control system is simply not an option.
Recent advances in biometric and analytic technologies, however, have made it so organizations can use even more complex identity authorization solutions. The FBI, for example, is in the process of developing a database of faces that can be identified when seen on surveillance cameras, according to a report by CBS Philly.
"In the end, it will hopefully allow law enforcement to more efficiently solve criminal investigations," said Rob D'Ovidio, associate professor of criminal justice at Drexel University, according to the news provider.
Unfortunately, there are some risks associated with using such technologies.
Privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition
Like a significant number of similar "tracking" technologies before it, facial recognition biometric surveillance cameras invite unwanted issues regarding privacy, the news source said.
"The best-case scenario when it comes to privacy protection is that an image would not be stored after it has been determined that there is no match of it in the database," D'Ovidio said, according to CBS Philly. "If they're retained, those people going about their everyday lives not doing anything criminal run the risk of the government being able to re-create their travels and understand patterns of behavior."
Despite these concerns, facial recognition technologies continue to mature and become more widely available. A separate report by TechNavio forecast the global facial recognition market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 29 percent through 2014. As the industry expands, more private organizations will be able to leverage the tools and analytic solutions to make similar tracking systems of their own.
This can create problems because private companies cannot be steered as much as government entities, D'Ovidio told CBS Philly.
"We have limited ability to put those same safeguards into place when it comes to private entities that are capturing these data," D'Ovidio said, according to CBS Philly.
As biometrics continues to evolve, decision-makers need to tread the adoption line carefully to avoid potential controversies and problems down the road.