BY NORBERT RUG
I am for the implementation of the Facial and Object Recognition System (FORS) in the Lockport schools. There I said it. I know this might be an unpopular stance but it is the way I feel. I believe an integral part of journalism is to present both sides of an issue and to write how I feel not to just agree with the prevailing opinion. I expect very little support and a lot of blowback due to my opinion but with all the articles condemning FORS I thought it was time to hear from the other side.
Perhaps the most persuasive reason to have FORS in schools is that it could make our children safer. FORS allows the software to look at it’s photographic database to identify a person and see if he or she is supposed to be on school property. It can also identify a person who is prohibited to be near a school like sexual predators, fired employees and gang members. It can then alert an armed, trained school resource officer, a Lockport city policeman or a Lockport policeman moonlighting as a school security guard to approach the unknown person to evaluate their intent.
Initial security should be to lock all the doors while school is in session so no one from the outside can get in. The doors in Lockport are being locked right now. I know this isn’t a perfect solution because a person could wait near a door till someone opens the door so they can gain access. This also wouldn’t stop a person who is supposed to be there from committing a crime and we can’t lock all the doors from the inside due to fire and other safety concerns but FORS would add an additional layer of protection.
Facial Recognition is the highest speed biometric technology available. This has only one function and that is to recognize human faces. Forget the eye scanners and thumbprint readers, FORS currently analyzes the unique characteristics of a person’s facial images that are taken by a digital video camera. It’s the least invasive way and provides no delays and makes people completely oblivious to the process.
Whether you know it or not, FR software is out there and is currently being used right now. Facial recognition has been around in one form or another since the 1960s but recent technological developments have led to a wide proliferation of this technology.
Face recognition has been used to find missing children and victims of human trafficking. If missing individuals are in a database, law enforcement can be alerted when they are recognized by face recognition in an airport, retail store or other public space. Three thousand missing children were discovered in just four days using face recognition according to the website facefirst.com.
The best in facial recognition technology is currently available. The Apple’s iPhone X represents the beginning of a new era by using Facial Recognition Technology to unlock a smartphone. This is made possible by the cautiously running infrared and 3D sensors that work with a forward facing camera. The system’s unlock would is practically instantaneous and does not need the user to press any buttons.
But this is hardly the only example. There is the infamous Facebook facial recognition software whose power and accuracy is better than the FBI’s systems! Each time you post a photo or tag your friends on Facebook, you provide a massive help for their facial recognition algorithm.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection began testing facial recognition technology at around a dozen U.S. airports. The New York Times reported on the use of FR for security purposes in the private sector, notably in Madison Square Garden and at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Despite broad experimentation, there is no federal law governing the use of FR, although Illinois and Texas have laws that mandate informed consent. Whether used by governments or in private enterprise, the technology appears to be developing faster than the law.
Instead of utilizing manual recognition, which would be done by a security guard or the approved representatives not on the premises, the facial recognition technology automates the identification process and ensures its flawlessness every time without any pause.
Anyone that has a problem getting photographed by “Big Brother” might be advised to look around. There are cameras everywhere like Walmart, Home Depot and Walgreens to name a few. With the low price of digital, video surveillance systems, even my neighbors have them.
Facial recognition software can be used to quickly detect perpetrators of identity fraud. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles’ Facial Recognition Technology Program has been doing just that, with 21,000 possible identity fraud cases identified since 2010.
Aside from public usage by airports and railway stations, stadiums. There is even an adaptation of facial recognition for use in medical applications by diagnosing diseases that cause detectable changes in appearance.
Some citizens may resent the idea that the government obtains, holds, and uses their biometric data without their consent. Anyone who holds a passport or has sought a visa should not be surprised that the government at least has this information, even if the individual has not expressly consented to allow the government to retain it.
Like I said, I am for anything that has the potential to protect our children.
Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport. His children and grandchildren have been/are Lockport students.
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