London’s King’s Cross is using facial recognition to track tens of thousands of people and Canary Wharf is considering to follow suit, across a total area that covers more than 160 acres of the city.
The 67-acre King’s Cross area, which has been recently redeveloped and houses several office buildings including Google’s UK headquarters, Central Saint Martin’s college, schools and a range of retailers, has multiple cameras set up to observe visitors. It is mandatory to provide clear evidence upon the need of applying this technology and using people’s images.
Reports suggest the technology was used to ensure public safety, however local council was not aware about the launch of this system. These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems to protect the privacy of the general public, however they are yet to confirm how many cameras were in use or how long facial recognition had been active in the area.
Canary Wharf Group, a leading British property company headquartered in London, the company which owns both private offices and public spaces is also in talks to install facial recognition across its 97-acre estate, which counts many major financial services companies, including Barclays, Credit Suisse and HSBC, as tenants. They are actively speaking to facial recognition suppliers to pilot the technology in an area traversed by 140,000 people daily, as part of the security systems.
According to a leading Canadian security software company – Genetec, Canary Wharf currently operates at least 1,750 CCTV cameras, as well as an automatic license plate recognition system to track vehicles in the area. The systems then automatically notify police of any vehicle acident.
Under the current general data protection laws, collecting sensitive personal data including faces which require explicit consent from the people being observed.
Firms who wish to capture and use images automatically need to provide a clear evidence to demonstrate the necessity for using it. Two leading police forces of London’s Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police have already trailed this technology with citizens. This technology is widely adopted already in the UK courtesy to consumerization via Apple and Facebook.
Conventional stores such as Budgens and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have already deployed cameras that are capable of facial recognition which also prevent teenagers from buying alcohol or cigarettes.