- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
The automatic facial matching service Facewatch has launched in Spain with the appointment of retail technology firm SBT.
Jose Alvarez Abad, VP Strategic and Sales at SBT says: “We have been watching the development of AFR [automatic facial recognition] for the retail sector with interest, as Spain unfortunately experiences the same type of issues that plague the UK retail sector. As a specialist provider of retail technology, it became apparent that with the current European data laws Facewatch was the product that met all our requirements and gives us the opportunity to run trials with our key clients immediately.”
Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch says: “Facewatch is fast becoming the standard for retail sector facial recognition in the UK and this has led to huge interest across Europe and the World. In 2016 we launched our first version of Facewatch facial recognition in Brazil and using our real world experience and early adoption of the GDPR privacy principles we have created an incredibly simple and effective system that is fully GDPR compliant. The opportunity to work with SBT and appoint them as our distributor in Spain is great news for us, as having the opportunity to work with a well-established technology focused partner like SBT allows us to scale in other countries in the knowledge the training, implementation and GDPR compliance will be expertly managed.”
SBT is a Spanish company specialising in technology for the retail market. SBT’s clients include Pepe Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and Pikolinos. Set up in 2017, the business covers four business areas: In-store customers and product behaviour, operations and shopping experience, security and loss prevention analytics and general retail services.
Facewatch have been providing crime prevention software for over ten years. The business was started by Simon Gordon, owner of London’s oldest wine bar on the Embankment in London. The wine bar was a target for pick-pockets and bag thieves. Being technology minded and working with local police he launched an online crime reporting system including CCTV footage. This led to the launch of a facial recognition solution in 2017, aimed at retailers to deter habitual criminals shoplifting, abusing staff or causing criminal damage. Facewatch says its product can be managed by small stores and is scalable for use by retail groups due to its cloud-based servers and using Intel NUC mini PCs. Data is managed by Facewatch. Facewatch doesn’t store information about the public, just those for whom their retailer subscribers have uploaded confirmed evidence of criminal activity. If a facial image is not matched to a relevant watch list the algorithmic data is deleted.
Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making facial recognition affordable for even small businesses, according to the firm. The company’s watch-list of Subjects of Interest (SOIs) is stored in the cloud. It’s a centralised, managed database of biometric data corresponding to the faces of people who are the firm says reasonably suspected of having shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service.
The hardware includes a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel NUC, a mini-PC 4×4 inches in size. A user can play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity. The cameras placed at store entrances send an image to an on-site NUC loaded with software that converts the image to an algorithm. The algorithm is compared to those in the Facewatch relevant watch-list for that property and if there is a match an alertwith an accuracy reading is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watch-list has entered its business.
To add a shoplifter to the list takes six key presses and about 20 seconds, for use by general store or security staff. “They simply follow a drop-down menu, the time and date are automated, tick the box, the whole thing’s designed to be simple but highly secure and includes a confirmatory legal statement to ensure that the information is accurate,” said Nick Fisher of Facewatch.