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Common Misconceptions about how Facial Recognition Software works


Q:           Does Imagus Facial Recognition software store images of everyone seen on a CCTV camera?


A:            Generally, most cameras you see are CCTV or video management system (VMS) cameras and these are typically being monitored by security staff and recording video footage into the VMS storage system for use by the system operator. Where face recognition is in use, typically only a select few of these VMS cameras will be linked to face recognition software. In this case the facial recognition (FR) software is doing an automated version of the job a security guard would do watching a VMS screen. When a face is detected on a camera using our FR software, we create a metadata face file ("Metadata") for that particular face which describes the characteristics of the face. This Metadata is then used by the system to match against faces of people of interest who have been enrolled by the operator in the enrolled faces database. The Metadata is a data file, not an image file. The FR software is designed to access the VMS video footage for investigation purposes, but the storage of images is generally happening in the existing VMS, not the FR system.


Face Metadata storage is a configurable part of our software which is managed by the software operator and set depending on their needs Metadata can be stored for days or minutes or immediately deleted.


Q:           What does the Imagus Facial Recognition software do with a Metadata face file?


A:           The Imagus FR software checks the Metadata face file against a database of enrolled faces. This database of enrolled faces is manually setup by the operator of the Imagus FR software. These enrolled faces in the database are typically only "persons of interest" which the operator wants to be alerted about in the future e.g., if a person of interest returns to their building.


If the Metadata from the detected face is a close enough match to the Metadata associated with an enrolled face, then we get a facial recognition match.


Q:           Does Imagus Facial Recognition software add all faces seen on a FR camera to an enrolled faces database?


A:            No, a face must be manually added to the enrolled faces database by the operator.



Q:           What about CCTV and Video Management Systems (VMS)?

A:           Video Management Systems typically record video from all cameras connected to the system for use later when analysing events. They typically store video data for 30 days.


Q:           Can Imagus Facial Recognition Software work standalone?


A:           Yes, Imagus can work with video cameras connected directly to the Imagus Software. In these cases, Imagus creates short snippets of video each time a face is detected. In this way Imagus can effectively become a very limited and basic VMS with some search and retrieval functions to enable faces to be found later should an incident need to be investigated.


The snippets of video allow for a face from that snippet to be enrolled in the database, however it is important to note that the snippet itself does not enrol the face automatically and the snippet, nor the Metadata from the snippet, do not have any personal identifying data attached to it. Enrolment and associating any personal data or narrative data with an image needs to be done manually by the operator through the enrolment process. Faces in the video snippets cannot be used for any other purpose unless the operator goes back and manually enrols the face in the database.


Q:           Are these snippets of video kept?


A:           This functionality is configurable by the operator. The Imagus video snippets can be immediately deleted after being used to create Metadata for checking against the enrolled database or they can be stored for an amount of time according to the needs of the operator. Note however that even if video snippets are stored, the faces are not automatically added to the enrolled persons database.


Q:           Should I be concerned by what I have read in the media?


A:           Concerns sometimes raised in media and online, which suggest that all Facial Recognition Systems are enrolling and profiling all of the people or customers seen on their cameras are incorrect. The Imagus Facial Recognition software does not work this way. Any faces that are added to the enrolled persons database are typically people of interest to the operator and such faces need to be enrolled manually and have any other data associated with the faces also added manually.



The operation of facial recognition systems needs to follow the guidelines regarding the collection of personal information from the office of the Australian Information Commissioner (Australian Privacy Principles Guidelines, Privacy Act 1988). This normally includes taking multiple steps to protect and secure private data. This can include


  1. Updating privacy policies to cover what data is obtained using facial recognition systems and how it is managed and kept secured.

  2. Ensuring appropriate signage is displayed regarding the use and purpose of CCTV and Facial Recognition systems at building and facility entrances.

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