AuthEd is a monthly Wicket educational series where we share insights and answer questions about the authentication industry and how our software products play into it.
As facial recognition continues to enter the mainstream, business leaders will find themselves evaluating not only use cases for the technology but also suppliers and their solutions. Facial recognition (FR) holds promise to add speed, efficiency, and security to everyday operations such as employee entry or visitor management. Still, as with all tech decisions, there are differences in how these products are developed, implemented, and integrated to enable base use cases.
Whether you deliver technology that could benefit from FR or you run a business and believe FR could serve to improve your customer and employee experience, here are five factors to consider when evaluating options.
First, you should be clear about why you need FR. Is it for an employee entry system, a visitor management system, a clock-in/clock-out system, or something else? What if the employee or visitor is not interested in opting in for FR—is there an alternative system in place? This leads to the next topic.
Rarely is one faced with a “greenfield” project to deliver an access control system already equipped with FR. Typically, existing infrastructure is already in place, with which FR solutions can be paired. This minimizes time to launch and unnecessary disruption. In this case, the FR system would need to fit well into a “brownfield” ecosystem of access control hardware, software and business processes.
Access Control is an area where existing solutions benefit from innovations with FR. Electronic card readers are ubiquitous in today’s business world and help companies control who has access to buildings or doors and when that access is allowed. Keycards can be lost or shared, making it difficult for facilities or security personnel to know who is present in a building at any given time. Given the difficulty in passing around one’s face, FR can be a more secure method (or factor, in multi-factor authentication) in managing access.
Another example of FR integration can be seen with ticketing platforms in the sports and entertainment world. Traditional ticketing platforms are not developing proprietary FR technology, and stadiums do not need to bring in a new ticketing platform with FR capabilities. Instead, existing ticketing platforms can gain more from integrations with leaders in the FR space, providing a faster and superior fan experience when entering a stadium.
With that said, determining how easily FR solutions lay on top of existing software and hardware and then choosing the right solution can significantly reduce cost and increase performance.
FR should enable “the authenticated person” to continue forward—quickly and efficiently—whether opening doors to their office building or entering an arena to see a concert.
Existing technology, such as a keycard or a bar code on a phone, return fast decisions but may be inconvenient to carry around and have at the ready, leading to queues at access points. Leading FR solutions also return decisions very quickly (usually in half a second or less). The key difference between them is that the rate of decision making, coupled with using a face as a credential, adds a layer of security while helping more people to pass quickly through access points, reducing the likelihood of lines.
Ultimately, speed requirements will be different based on the type of event and customers you serve—thousands of people may need to get in faster than hundreds, for example—so understanding what you need will cut down on a daunting list of potential solutions.
4. Demonstrated Performance
Decision-makers should consider FR solutions’ track record and performance when evaluating them for a potential fit. Receiving a demonstration in a controlled environment is a good start. Nevertheless, depending on the use case, FR-providers should be able to detail their real-world experience “in the wild,” overcoming: variable lighting conditions, changing viewpoints (also called pose), partial occlusions (such as facial hair, hats, glasses, or masks), and faces-in-motion (rarely do people stand at attention to gain entry).
5. Data Privacy & Protection
Finally, decision-makers must have a clear understanding of data ownership, use and protection. A business’s employees or guests would surely prefer that their registration and associated use data, including source photos and contact information, is never available to a third-party or used for a non-primary purpose. During operations, when the software and the edge device (camera and computer) are working in tandem to identify an individual presenting to the camera, are photos or video sent over the internet to a cloud database? Are source images stored on the edge device? Or, is the FR computing happening at the edge, and not saving any irrelevant or non-matching faces? Likewise, decision-makers should understand whether data is encrypted and stored securely by the FR provider and encrypted in flight for those looking to gain the full benefit of the FR solution.
There is a methodical and straightforward mechanism to evaluate whether you even need an FR solution. If you do, these five steps can provide you with a succinct jump starter so you can implement your project with confidence.
Glenn Borgmann is an EVP of Partnerships at Wicket, focused on engaging current and future clients to maximize the impact of the company’s software solutions. Glenn resides in the Philly suburbs with his wife and two children and enjoys coaching young athletes on and off the diamond.
Thanks for joining us on this AuthEd journey, and if you’re interested in layering facial authentication on top of your existing access solution please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org