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A game of two halves

May 20, 2024

It’s been quite a week: a new budget was announced; final preparations were made for the World Cup in Qatar; and Reliance High-Tech was appointed to the new Crown Commercial Services (CCS) framework (RM6257), which addresses ‘Security Physical and Support Services!’

Already a market-leading integrator for the public sector, we have been on the CCS framework for a number of years, and have lengthy experience supporting organisations within national and local government, the Ministry of Defence, health authorities, education establishments, housing associations and charities. We also have great experience supporting police forces, having been a leading supplier of digital interview room technology, interview rooms and custody suites for many years.

The new framework provides a simple route for public sector organisations to access security services and has been designed to provide value for money, trust and experience. Organisations that can access our services under the new framework include police, local government, health, education, housing associations and charities.

Not all partners are equal. In the public sector, you want to be working with a company that understands your risk and protects you. As regular readers of my blog will know, we recognise the critical importance of cyber security, information security and business continuity to public sector organisation, and we design solutions with these in mind. So alongside our place on the CCS framework, we are also proud to hold accreditations including Cyber Essentials PlusISO27001 (Information Security and Cyber); and ISO22301 (Business Continuity) So, as important as a place on the framework is, it’s vital that organisations find a partner that understands the wider role of technology and can help them turn it to their advantage.

They think it’s all over…

Elements of that technology will come into effect this week as the World Cup kicks off in Qatar. Some 15,000 cameras equipped with facial-recognition technology are being used to police the sixty-four matches that form the tournament.

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the Command and Control Centre for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Niyas Abdulrahiman, explained that “we can open a door or all the doors in a stadium right from here”, while the control centre will monitor all nearby trains and buses. He claims the set-up represents the “future of stadium operations.”

Of course, Qatar has close links with the UK, and its police forces have been trained by forces including Greater Manchester Police. Indeed, Qatari police cadets helped prepare for the World Cup by attending Manchester’s LGBT Pride parade in 2021. They treat the policing of the tournament seriously and, since 2010, security delegations from Qatar have attended every Euros and Champions League Final and even matches including Manchester United versus Liverpool at Old Trafford, and an ‘old firm’ derby between Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow, according to a report in ‘I’ newspaper.

…it is now!

At the same time as 15,000 cameras are switched on in Qatar, a ruling this week in Italy outlawed facial recognition technology, except to fight crime. The country prohibited the use of facial recognition as its Data Protection Agency rebuked two municipalities that were experimenting with the technology. An exception to the law is when the technology plays a role in judicial investigations or the fight against crime.

Is this the death knell for facial recognition technology beyond its use by law enforcement? I think not, for only last week, Amazon confirmed it was testing facial recognition technology to verify seller identity. The firm will test facial recognition, forgery detection, and other automated technologies as an alternative to existing systems of verifying the identities of online sellers.

According to Geekwire, the exercise is voluntary for prospective sellers in the USA and “video calls with human reviewers remain an alternative for those who don’t want to participate.” Interestingly, Amazon says it’s responding to feedback from small businesses that want a more efficient verification process.

What’s more, another news item last week points to the fact that facial recognition technology is accepted and trusted by the generations that will increasingly govern its adoption: millennials and generation Z. A recent YouGov survey of 2,455 US adults revealed that around four in 10 Americans use facial biometrics at least once a day with a mobile app.

Of these, 18-to-24-year-olds (the Generation Z age group) and 25-to-34-year-olds (millennials) are the biggest user groups by age: three-quarters (75%) of them regularly unlock their devices using facial recognition.

All to play for!

It seems the final whistle hasn’t blown on facial recognition technology after all, then. Indeed, the potential for AI-driven security technology, whether it involves facial recognition, object classification, automated alerts, or operational data insight, remains huge.

With our place on the CCS RM6257 framework, we are pleased to be able to continue our work with those in the public sector as they navigate and leverage this technology to keep their people, assets and reputations secure.

If your organisation could use help understanding and managing the risks that affect it, contact Reliance High-Tech at info@reliancehightech.co.uk.