Last updated: 22 November 2019
I wrote this blog with help from my colleague Alexis Camarillo.
Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen the film ‘Coco’, you might want to skip to the next sub-header
In 2017 Disney released “Coco”, an animated fantasy film featuring the story of a 12-year old boy who stumbles by mistake into the Land of the Dead, where he goes through an unforgettable journey. It’s a very entertaining, emotional (it actually brought tears to my eyes) and beautifully narrated story, honoring a Mexican tradition called “Día de muertos”, where it is believed that late relatives and friends return for a day to spend some time with their loved ones.
What really caught my attention was the use of biometrics within the film. A form of facial recognition is used when one of the main characters tries to cross over a bridge in order to go from the Land of the Dead to the Land of the Living on the “Day of the Dead” (since this is the only day when the dead can cross to the land of the living). At the “border” his face must be scanned and if his photo has been put on an altar (a typical offering used on the day of the dead with pictures of late relatives), he can cross the bridge and reunite with his loved ones for one day. The character tries to fool the system by pretending he is a famous character (Frida Kahlo), but the face scanner detects he is lying about his identity and prevents him from crossing the border. I couldn’t help but wonder, are biometrics really that powerful? As it turns out, they are.
In 2017, Gemalto launched LFIS (Live Face Identification System), a solution that integrates facial recognition into live TV systems. It identifies a person recorded by a camera in real-time. Today there are endless uses for this technology in the criminal, civil and commercial fields. But what I find really astonishing is how LFIS can be used to tackle social issues such as border control, city security and even human trafficking. Below, I’ve provided examples of three use cases of LFIS used to tackle such issues.
Facial recognition in airports
Facial recognition is already in use in many airports and border crossing points across the world, just like in “Coco”, promising to enhance security, as well as improve and expedite air travel.
In the US for example, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has selected facial recognition and is providing Traveler Verification Services (TVS) to biometrically identify passengers throughout their international journey. When leaving the US, the entire process is done via capture and match right at the gate as opposed to the airline tracking you through the airport. At the gate, the face must match the digital image on file with CBP’s Traveler Verification Services.
No additional data is gathered, and nothing leaves the transaction, so travelers can rest assured that their biometric information will not be kept by the airport, airlines or any other system involved in the process of verification.
Check our infographic for more myths and facts about facial recognition in travel.
Public security in smart cities
Since I am not a technical girl, I always refer to real life stories to highlight the potential and usability of Gemalto solutions to solve day-to-day problems. My friend and her husband recently purchased bikes to escape the chaos of Mexico City and also use them to take their kids to school. Well, their bikes were stolen… with the child seats on… in the parking lot… of their apartment! And the whole thing was caught on camera. Did the fact that there were cameras intimidate the burglars? Not at all! After reporting the burglary, they were told there are criminal groups operating in the entire city dedicated to stealing bikes.
With the Gemalto Cogent LFIS solution, the authorities can now receive real-time alerts to take action quickly if the faces of the members of these criminals are caught on camera by the public safety monitoring system. Even with this simple example, let’s not forget that public security (which certainly includes more dangerous threats than the bike stealing mafia) is a growing concern for cities worldwide. LFIS can help authorities move from reactive to proactive security with a solution that provides speed, accuracy and scalability.
A tool to stop human trafficking
AMBER Alert is a program through which the authorities spread information about missing children and teenagers that might be in risk and appeal to society, through the media, for any hints that might lead to finding them. The program exists in several countries, among them Mexico, the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Malaysia and Greece. Typically, a picture and information such as name, age, sex, physical characteristics, clothing, details about the abduction (if any) are made public, in an attempt to find them.
As a parent, thinking about this breaks my heart. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, as of March 20, 2018, AMBER Alerts have helped rescue and safely return 924 children. What if we used LFIS to increase this number? How many lives could be saved? How many children could be spared from such a traumatic experience?
I love it when we can use technology to tackle social problems. What about you? These are just a couple of examples of real-life use cases, but when it comes to LFIS, the possibilities are endless! Watch our video and leave your comments below or tweet us @Gemalto.