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Moving forward

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

It may be spring, but there is a definite buzz in the air and a sense that things are moving in the right direction. Change is afoot.

The image above shows what will be Reliance High-Tech’s new offices in Bracknell, Berkshire. We are moving forward with a £2m investment in our corporate headquarters to support our continued growth in an industry undergoing massive change.

I will make more announcements when we have moved in, but needless to say our new HQ will bring all the latest innovation under one roof from industry leading technologies, and we very much look forward to welcoming customers to our building to see for themselves ‘the art of the possible’ and how today’s cloud-based, data-driven technology can deliver value beyond security, today and for the future.

Talking of innovation, a number of other announcements last week captured my attention.

Microsoft AI is opening a new hub in the centre of London to help advance its work to developing state-of-the-art language models. The corporation, which partners Open AI, the brains behind Chat GPT, cited the “enormous pool of AI talent and expertise in the U.K.” as a reason for opening the technology hub, and is the first step in a “significant, long-term investment” in the UK. At Reliance, although we are an integrator we are nonetheless working directly with a number of AI experts globally, to ensure that you have access to the best solutions for the future – watch this space.

Separately, another innovation last week came in the form of the publication of long-awaited standards on the use of facial recognition technology from the British Standards Institution. BS 9347:2024 provides a code of practice for the ethical use of facial recognition technology in video surveillance-based systems.

I will perhaps go into this in more detail in due course, but a quick examination suggests it may provide a sensible framework for the wider use of a technology in a market that is anticipated to be worth £13.4 billion globally by 2028 but, as importantly, could do so much to make law enforcement far more effective, while ensuring commercial users are more efficient and secure.

The standard certainly seems to have ethical use of the technology at its centre: it insists that a human loop is essential where facial recognition is used for identification purposes, a subject I have written about in the past, and agree with entirely. It even addresses the possibility of bias by requiring those that follow the standard to ensure systems are trained on wide datasets.

Readers of this blog have long supported the use of facial recognition in the UK to help everyone from the police to retailers reduce crime and find efficiencies – providing there are systems in place to manage its use. These standards appear to do precisely that, but I will return to the subject in greater detail after I have looked into it in detail.

Finally, another subject that I have addressed in the past seems also to be coming to its natural conclusion. It has been suggested that the government will address the growing problem of retail crime with a suite of measures including making the assault of a retail worker a standalone criminal offence, forcing serial offenders to be required to be wear electronic tags, and a pilot of new community sentencing measures to tackle prolific shop theft offenders. Finally, and in a nod to the subject I addressed earlier, there is also an investment of £55m over the next four years in facial recognition technology to help identify and catch offenders.

Perhaps things really are moving in the right direction!

Finally, it was great to see so many people at the Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO) event last week. Do remember that we are also attending the School and Academies Showon 1 May in London. Come by and say hello if you plan to attend, and find out how Reliance High-Tech can help you.