Facial recognition in UAE: How will it change lives

Facial recognition in UAE: How will it change lives

The UAE Cabinet recently approved a proposal to employ facial recognition technology to further develop services provided by private and government sectors.

The use of this technology could lessen the need for traditional means of identification such as official documents, make various services seamless, and also secure processes.

Over time, our face could well be our digital identity, and allow us seamless access to places and establishments without the need for access or identification cards. “Facial recognition is a pathway to digital transformation. You can have paperless borders; automation can ease travel and make access to several services more efficient and faster,” said Dr Ali Raza, Professor of Computing Sciences, overlooking the digital transformation lab and a consultant to government agencies in the region.

In the UAE, the biometric system using facial recognition is in use at Dubai international airport. Thousands of CCTV cameras cover public transport, traffic, and several tourist hotspots, and Dubai Police have digitally tracked criminals in the city simply by uploading their mugshots into a database. The technology is being used in other emirates too.

Besides, in our personal lives, we use this technology to tag friends, family, or perhaps unlock our phones. The ubiquity of the use of facial recognition is just a matter of time, especially seeing the pace at which this technology is evolving. It can be put to use in different spheres.

This technology has been around for decades. It was in the early 60s when Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson first used computers to recognise the human face. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that facial recognition was better understood and applied to practical use. A programme developed by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology eventually led to more sophisticated automatic technology, which made it popular. The evolving nature of artificial intelligence, advances in deep learning, and systems for processing faster amounts of data have helped the technology come closer to its full potential. This has even led to higher accuracy and faster processing time, which makes it more user-friendly and practical for use.

Over the last few years, it is not just governments that have been keen to adopt this technology, primarily from a law-and-order enforcement perspective, but private companies too are diving in and investing in it. The global market for facial recognition is expected to reach $8.5 billion by 2025. The optimism surrounding artificial intelligence and its offshoots such as facial recognition are immense. It is making systems and services more efficient, secure, helping save time and easing various processes.

The UAE has been at the forefront of implementing technology to improve lives of people here and also make the country safer and more secure. Implementation of FR in government and private services in the UAE promises to usher in a new era of growth and development.

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