In a wide-ranging discussion, Nick and Gavin talk about the major escalation of problems on the high street brought about by the pandemic. This is a must-watch for CCTV installers and retailers who need a solution to reduce their losses and help shopworker moral
In this short video, we preview and test the new Facewatch facemask algorithm. This new upgrade shows a very high level of accuracy and is a great addition to the product especially as the use of facemask and other face coverings is increasing during the gradual return to high street trading
It’s a perfect time for our customers and Accredited Installers to watch all the latest news face-to-face on Facewatch TV.
The first series of video updates are delivered by our technical guru and all round Facewatch expert, George Gordon.
Broadcasting from his home George will bring you weekly tech tips and information about installing, running and getting the best from your installation.
Facemasks are everywhere, serving as one of the frontlines in the fight against the Covid19 global pandemic.
Identification solutions are needed that can be rapidly deployed to support the challenge of offering recognition systems in the presence of facial masks. Facewatch is delivering perhaps the most powerful solution there can be; a next-generation periocular recognition algorithm that detects and recognizes faces based only on the eye region between cheekbones and eyebrows.
The Facewatch Periocular algorithm leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to perform person detection and identification using solely the eye and eyebrow regions of the face. The Facewatch algorithm can operate with any camera, delivers the same best-in-class hardware and software efficiency that has become synonymous with Facewatch, and achieves exceptional accuracy.
Other face recognition vendors are claiming that masks do not impede their algorithm. And, while modern face recognition algorithms are incredibly resilient in the presence of masks, medical masks occlude 50% of the face, are not properly validated in the NIST FRVT benchmarks, and are inconsistent with previous algorithm design requirements. By solely using the eyes and eyebrow regions, a periocular recognition algorithm leverages all the best properties of a face recognition algorithm (accurate, easy-to-use, sensor agnostic, fast) while delivering a solution that is specifically designed to not be influenced by medical masks.
Facewatch is including the periocular algorithm to all existing license holders under active maintenance, and the algorithm will be a standard feature, included for no additional cost. Facewatch will soon release a mask detection algorithm, which leverages the periocular face recognition pipeline to enable rapid awareness of whether a person is wearing a mask or not.
This periocular recognition algorithm powered by the modern technological breakthroughs in deep learning and convolutional neural networks will enable subjects of interest to be recognised automatically whilst enabling others to anonymously receive access to retailers using Facewatch. It will further support persons adhering to religious customs such as niqabs to be provided an equal user experience when engaging with identification technology.
Facewatch system provides a, GDPR compliant, crime deterrent solution that is easy to install, can be used and managed by small stores and is scalable for use by large retail groups due to its unique cloud-based servers and using Intel® NUC mini PCs. Data is managed securely by Facewatch. Facewatch doesn’t store information about the general 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 instantly deleted.
Figure 1. Facewatch matches faces against known offenders within seconds of them entering a business
Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making advanced facial recognition affordable for even small businesses. The company’s watchlist of Subjects of Interest (SOI’s) is stored securely in the cloud. It’s a centralised, managed database of biometric data corresponding to the faces of people who are reasonably suspected of having shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service (Figure 1).
The hardware to run Facewatch is simple to deploy. It uses a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel® NUC, a mini-PC that is only 4×4 inches in size. Its performance enables it to play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity, making it ideal for a facial recognition system. 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 watchlist for that property and if there is a match an alert, along with an accuracy reading, is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watchlist has entered its business.
As the government takes increasingly stringent action to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, retail staff have found themselves on the front line in the face of panic buying and contagion fears.
- Labour MP Alex Norris calls on government to pass legislation protecting shopworkers from violence, abuse and assault
- Morrisons CEO David Potts introduces numerous measures to protect staff, including statutory sick pay
- Several retailers have called on consumers to treat colleagues with respect in the face of growing concerns around stockpiling
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK is rising daily. The government by its own admission has begun imposing “draconian” measures and many consumers have ignored pleas to the contrary and cleared shelves of some products in a stockpiling frenzy.
While panic buying has mostly taken place in supermarkets and grocery convenience stores, instances of consumers hoarding hand sanitiser, soap and over-the-counter medicines have also hit health and beauty retailers.
Social media, Twitter in particular, has started to fill up over the last few days with stories of frontline retail staff working longer hours and coming face to face with fraught and sometimes abusive members of the public, all the while trying to do their best to keep shelves stocked and consumers happy.
On Monday, Labour MP Alex Norris stood up in Parliament and put forward legislation to protect shopworkers from rising levels of violence, abuse and assault.
Norris said the shopworkers were “on the front line” of abuse and crime, and those worries were likely to be exacerbated amid the growing panic about coronavirus, given the “significance retail workers have in our lives, particularly during this period”.
“With the current coronavirus crisis we would argue that retail staff are essential workers”
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has backed the call and said “retail staff are essential to our communities, particularly during the coronavirus crisis”.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis says: “We have always made the case that retail staff are at the heart of our communities, but with the current coronavirus crisis we would argue that they are essential workers.
“Usdaw members across the retail supply chain and in stores are working hard to keep shelves filled and serve customers. We understand this is a stressful time and remind customers that shopworkers deserve respect and that no level of abuse is ever acceptable. It should never be a part of the job.”
The BRC says it is working with police and partners to “keep retail sites running as smoothly as possible” and that “when circumstances are difficult, retailers are well-versed in providing effective security measures”.
In a statement issued to all Morrisons’ stakeholders yesterday, chief executive David Potts agreed and called on consumers to “treat our colleagues on the front line with the greatest respect”.
Potts also called on customers to “please consider others even more so everyone can buy what they need, especially those who are most vulnerable in our society”.
A spokesman from another national grocer said there had been a handful of incidents across its estate, but there had not needed to take on extra security guards.
While some retail staff have faced abuse from consumers, others are also struggling with worries about getting the disease themselves – either from customers or from colleagues.
It is becoming a growing concern for businesses that frontline staff, as well as those working in key supply chain roles such as warehouse workers and delivery drivers, will fall sick or be forced to self-isolate as the virus continues to spread.
Earlier this week, in a call between representatives of Defra, supermarket chains and the wider food industry, the possibility of taking thousands of hospitality workers on secondment to work in food supply chains was raised, according to BuzzFeed news. While this could even increase the risk of spreading the virus, it will at least safeguard vital jobs and supply lines in the sector.
‘Amazing group of people’
Protecting staff from spreading the disease is becoming a top priority. The managing director of one high street food and beverage operator told Retail Week his staff are deep cleaning premises three times a day. Under normal circumstances, they would be deep cleaned twice in a month.
A spokeswoman from the Co-op says it has taken “immediate steps” to safeguard staff including building in “additional working hours for store colleagues to undertake more frequent handwashing throughout the day”.
Morrisons and Boots are among those to have implemented measures designed to enhance hygiene and staff safety.
A Boots spokeswoman says it has been “making sure that our stores, pharmacies, opticians and hearing care facilities are all clean and hygienic”. She also says teams in-store “have access to handwashing facilities and sanitiser”.
Morrisons yesterday announced a slew of measures designed to protect staff. In order to reduce the handling of cash by shopworkers, the grocer has asked customers to pay by card or smartphone “where possible”.
The grocer has “been issuing hand sanitiser” to all checkout workers in-store, significantly increased cleaning on surfaces that consumers and staff touch and redeployed staff “who are vulnerable to the virus”.
The retailer has also taken measures to protect staff who either fall ill from the virus or are forced to self-isolate and therefore can’t work by creating a ‘colleague hardship fund’. This will ensure all staff affected by the virus receive sick pay “whether or not they would normally be eligible”.
As the retail sector waits to see what measures will be bought in by the government next, many in the industry are rallying around frontline workers in these uncertain times.
Timpson chief executive James Timpson today described employees as “an amazing group of people who I’m going to need to lean on heavily over the coming weeks and months to keep the show on the road”. Other retail leaders will heartily agree and be doing their best on behalf of their people.
Less than a month ago Vista CCTV became the newest partner with Facewatch to distribute this game changing technology to Vista Priority Partners (VPPs). In this series of Face to Face videos Nick Fisher,CEO, Facewatch and Dean Kernot, Sales and Marketing Manager, Vista CCTV go Face to Face in conversation to explore the opportunity.
In a wide ranging discussion with probing questions from Dean and straight talking answers from Nick this huge change to the security landscape is discussed. Fundamentally Facewatch facial recognition is fast becoming the acceptable, affordable and compliant solution for any business wanting to deter crime and anti-social behaviour whilst providing a safer and more customer orientated environment for visitors and staff.
The full Face to Face film:
The Facewatch story
The Problem Facewatch Solves
The Vista VPP program
The Accredited Partner Program
How do watch lists work?
In an open debate at The Temple in London the issues of facial recognition and its use by the Police was debated by Fiona Barton QC.
Facewatch was invited to speak to allow the invited barristers to learn more about this important crime deterrent. Presentations by Nick Fisher and our Data Protection officer,Dave Sumner, were made. The video gives the edited highlights of this wide ranging presentation.
Fiona Barton QC, 5 Essex Court
Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch
Dave Sumner, DPO, Facewatch
The Centre for Retail research has produced an overview of crime statistics in the UK which show a continued increase in the level and type of crime facing the retail sector.
There are several official and unofficial surveys of retail crime in the UK, including the Home Office Crime Against Business 2018, the British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey 2018, the Association of Convenience Stores’ The Crime Report 2019, as well as Sensormatic’s Global Shrink Index and Checkpoint’s Global Retail Theft Barometer. Each one has a different methodology and covers a slightly different purpose.
We have consolidated this information into a simple info-graphics with the focus on the major crime and violence issues facing UK retailers
Download the info-graphics guide:
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