Biometric Crowd Control

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These days, in the landscape of splintered target audiences and narrow genre classifications, it’s rare for a pop recording artist to command the attention of the public eye with the same fervor that fans brought to Elvis, the Beatles, Bowie or even Michael Jackson. But Taylor Swift may be the present-day exception. And, in a twisted example of life imitating art, her recently self-imposed “dark” makeover has fittingly brought an increasing number of disturbed stalkers into what’s left of her personal life. At least three major stories have surfaced of frustrated men looming with the threat of rape, obsession and murder. To combat this growing problem, the superstar’s concert at California’s Rose Bowl this past May implemented a digital kiosk system that employed biometrics to identify any faces that have previously been confirmed at potentially dangerous.

According to what concert security expert Mike Downing told Rolling Stone, Rose Bowl attendees that paused at the kiosk, which was cycling through highlights of rehearsal footage, were instantly scanned, and their biometric data was then sent to be cross-referenced with a database of known stalkers at a “command post” in Nashville, Tennessee. See video below:

As with any use of facial recognition, concerns arise over privacy. However, the law favors the artist here as concerts are technically private events, and almost any form of surveillance is fair game in the name of safety. But who exactly owns those facial images, and how long can they be kept on file in said database, especially if there is no prior history of wrongdoing?

This is really the extent of any privacy concerns as it is doubtful that the photos are simply deleted and disappear into the digital ether once the concert wraps. That said, this is one of the more practical uses of facial recognition in recent memory. Refreshingly, it isn’t for analytics or sales trends, but rather to protect someone the public loves.

About Author

Jason is a screenwriter, filmmaker, multimedia journalist and editor of DigitalSignageConnection.com. Since graduating from the University of South Florida with a journalism degree, Kushner has shot video and written for a myriad of publications and multimedia projects including Creative Loafing Tampa, Gogobot.com and TBO.com. His 2009 documentary American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee explored the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees and the various environmental/economic repercussions. The film became an Official Selection at 12 international film festivals, won Best Documentary at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival and a John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival. In 2015, he became editor of Digital Signage Expo’s partner site and has since worked his way up to Digital Content Manager for the Atlanta-based parent company, Exponation.

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