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26 April 2018
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The latest developments in access control centre on the use of facial recognition technology. Gary James at Aurora shares his insight into what the technology can do – and how it might affect the FM operation.

Facial - recognition istock
Credit: Istock

9 January 2017 | Gary James

What is this technology, and how might it be used?

Facial recognition software employees infrared technology and is mainly used in time and attendance, access control and security applications. 

Anyone who has taken a photograph or used CCTV will have seen the effects that bright sunlight behind a subject or different types of artificial light can have on the way someone looks This is a huge problem for verification because even if someone’s images are captured successfully in the first instance, if they look fundamentally different when they next present to the system it may not be possible to match them. The infrared sensors factor in variables such as the time of day or the amount of natural light in the room.

Is it faster than other access control mechanisms?

A normal biometric verification involves presenting a card or entering a PIN followed by the verification process. In this case no card, PIN or any other token other than a person’s face is required. Users being able to carry items such as bicycles, bags etc. through without having to put them down also speeds up the process.

How does it work with visitors to a site? 

This will depend on a particular customers policy, but many just enrol visitors as if they were staff but have their credentials expire after the appropriate period, just as might happen with a card-based system. We have an aviation customer who has an escorted visitor policy and where the system must verify the person responsible for the visitor immediately prior to the visitor and at the same entrance within a given time frame.

What does an FM need to know prior to its installation? 

Sensors cost the end user about £4,000, including the facial recognition software licence. Site conditions dictate additional costs involving interfaces for third-party equipment.

Are there additional steps for multi-tenanted offices? 

There shouldn’t be a great deal of difference. We share our building with another business and everybody from both companies is enrolled in the system. We both have independent access rules and a browser-based interface allows administrators with the correct permissions to add and manage users on the network.