Just a (recognized) face in the crowd

monitor faces

Hockey season is upon us and that means … facial recognition tests. And no, this is not some "playoff beard" scenario.

The DHS Science & Technology Directorate's Resilient Systems Division continues to develop biometric identification technologies for a variety of uses. One of its latest biometric ID tests was conducted Sept. 21, when it tasked facial recognition software to pick volunteers out of a crowd of thousands at a hockey arena.

DHS and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory tested the facial recognition capability at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash., during the season opener of the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. The Toyota Center has been used as a long-term test bed for data collection since 2008.

During the test, DHS said PNNL collected video to see if the new software could recognize PNNL employees who had volunteered to participate in the test from among almost 6,000 faces.

PNNL posted notices around the arena to let fans know of the testing, sent letters to season ticket holders and set up "opt out" lanes people could use to avoid the test. According to reports in the Tri-City Herald in Richland, Wash., the test used recognition software to pick out a few dozen volunteers at 46 randomly purchased seats in the arena from as far away as 100 meters.

PNNL spokesman Greg Koller said the lab collected the video of the crowd after the game and sent it along to DHS, which will test it against the recognition software.

"We plan to do it a handful of more times this season," Koller said. "Different times will allow for different lighting. People wear coats and jackets," and other variables, he said.

Including those playoff beards.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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Reader comments

Tue, Sep 24, 2013

1984 thirty years late....

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