Face Scanning Results a Mixed Bag

Face scanning technology “has been touted by manufacturers as the perfect device for recognizing terrorists in airports,” read a report on Wired.com a few weeks ago. In theory, the systems use surveillance cameras to scan crowds for bad guys and sound an alarm when a match is made between a live person and the system’s database of known criminals.

In Palm Beach Florida, the airport there has tried out a system called Visionics FaceIt but so far it has not been a success.

“The system failed to correctly identify airport employees 53 percent of the time, according to test data that was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under Florida’s open records law.”

“The preliminary results at the Palm Beach International Airport confirm that the use of facial recognition technology is simply ineffective and of no value,” said Randall Marshall, legal director of the state ACLU chapter.

Despite the technological failure, law enforcement officials still belive that having a system like this is a deterrent for criminal activity.

“The decision makers will not be reading a report from the ACLU, they’ll be looking at the real data,” said Visionics spokesman Meir Kahtan.

He said that similar tests at the Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston Logan airports showed a 90 percent success rate and insisted that the poor results at the Palm Beach International airport were due to incorrect lighting. Results for the other pilot programs were not immediately available.