In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, facial recognition
technology is rising up as a valuable resource in identity
management and security.
The coronavirus crisis has caused global ripples across business
and country. It has altered the way organisations do business,
how people engage with one another, and the boundaries of
communication and collaboration.
Industries are mobilising digital and tech to remain agile in
the COVID-19 pandemic and one technology has seen significant
traction – facial recognition. Facial recognition
technology companies are helping authorities and companies to
identify those who have been infected by the virus.
Here are eight examples of how companies and governments have
leveraged facial recognition to detect COVID-19 and reduce the
spread of infection in the pandemic:
The novel coronavirus causes COVID-19. The terms are used interchangeably, but coronavirus is to
COVID-19 what HIV is to AIDS, the one causes the other. As
people show symptoms of COVID-19 they usually exhibit a high
temperature, a dry cough, and a sore throat, but it’s the
temperature that’s important here. With the body’s
heat rising to more than 39.1 degrees, a fever has become one of
the most common identifiers of COVID-19.
This has led biometric company
to adapt its facial recognition technology to make it capable of
identifying a fever. According to the company website, the
technology will set off an alarm if a person entering the
premises has an elevated temperature indicating possible
symptoms of COVID-19.
Chinese company Telpo
has combined facial recognition with infrared thermography to
enable close range identification of an individual’s
temperature. Telpo has introduced a range of biometric terminals
that can not only identify heat, but can also detect identity
whether or not the person is wearing a mask.
There’s a case to be made for the use of facial
recognition during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic – it
minimises risk considerably. Biometric fingerprint readers have
been disabled as they become seething minefields of infection
with authorities in both
insisting that fingerprint security comes to an end during the
So, instead of placing people at checkpoints to physically check
identities, the solution is to implement contactless facial
recognition technology that’s capable of identifying
individuals with or without masks. In China,
Hanwang Technology Ltd
has developed a technology that’s capable of identifying
people when they’re wearing masks.
While also capable of detecting temperature, this is one of the
facial recognition companies that’s taken COVID-19
identification to the next level by introducing both single
channel recognition for office entrances and multi-channel
recognition for multiple surveillance cameras.
One of the overarching goals of the Hangwang Technology solution
is to ensure that citizen security remains a priority during the
outbreak. With masks, shut-down biometric terminals and a dearth
of security personnel, organisations and institutions are at
The solution developed by Hangwang Technology has been adopted
by the Ministry of Public Security because,
“It can detect crime suspects, terrorists or make
reports or warnings,”
said Huang Lei, the Vice President of Hangwang in an interview
Both Russia and
have implemented facial recognition technology solutions
alongside algorithms, artificial intelligence, and tracking
technology, to ensure that citizens remain compliant during
their respective lockdowns. A recent report on the BBC revealed
is using facial recognition across thousands of cameras in
parallel with digital passes on mobile phones to keep track of
Many facial recognition tools, especially the less sophisticated
systems on mobile devices, have struggled with reliable
identification as more and more people wear masks. The software
baffled by the changes in shape and line introduced by the mask.
It’s a problem that’s already been solved by two
companies – Hangwang and Herta.
Herta is a
Spanish company that has recently announced the launch of a
facial recognition algorithm that’s capable of looking
behind the mask and identifying the individual. The company had
already been working on the problem prior to the COVID-19 crisis
to assist medical personnel and to allow for accurate
identification in healthcare facilities.
In some countries, masks are mandatory and people are expected
to wear them no matter where they go or for how long. Facial
recognition technology companies didn’t take long to fill
this particular gap in the market. Chinese firm
has claimed that it had trained its algorithm to achieve an
accuracy of 96.5% in identifying those who were not wearing
masks in public places.
There’s no denying that the ability to detect a
person’s temperature before they get on a bus and possibly
spread COVID-19 to other people is extremely valuable in a
pandemic. There’s equally plenty of evidence that stands
behind how rigorous citizen monitoring and tracking played a
huge role in minimising the impact of COVID-19 in China and
But there remains the risk that the technologies implemented now
will not be quietly removed once the pandemic is over. That
governments and organisations will continue to monitor and track
people across the thousands of cameras with thousands of
advanced surveillance algorithms.
Only a few countries have locked these concerns into law or
discussed potential legislation around how facial recognition
will be regulated in the future, making this a time of not just
health insecurity, but personal information insecurity. The
value of the technology is there, but there’s a growing
need to protect the people as much as the technology is designed
to protect them.
FortyEight.ai has recognised
the need for transparency and accountability and developed a
solution that ensures organisations can
use facial recognition to reduce the spread of COVID-19
without the sticky risks that stem from the invasion of privacy
The solution allows for companies to leverage APIs that provide
real-time consumer transparency for recognition systems. Designed to deliver trust, the solution reduces risk and
automates compliance for companies looking to remain secure and
ethical in the COVID-19 era.
We provide an instant transparency and auditability solutions for
companies that use facial recognition technology.