When important elections come around, politics figures seek to make use of all available technology to enhance their campaign strategies. Over the years, the technology utilized within their campaigns has come to encompass different social media, digital media, and advertising strategies. Today it includes incorporating facial recognition software for security purposes.
Aside from self-promotion, political figures are prominent examples of individuals who look to technology to ultimately keep them and their team aware as they tour different areas in the hope of gaining votes. In doing so, having the ability to have a massive audience, such as the ones present at rallies and press conferences, scanned and analyzed for their emotions could become key to efficient safety protocols.
According to The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, at both the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2016, one exhibit, titled “Realtime Crowd Insights,” presented a small camera that was able to scan the room while a monitor simultaneously displayed the captured image. The camera feed would update itself every five seconds, allowing each image displayed to identify each face in the audience. The end result would allow each face to be assigned to specific data for campaign demographic research.
In-depth analysis of the data would include an assigned serial number, gender, estimated age along with any emotions detected by the software. When the author of The Intercept’s article, Alex Emmons, approached this machine he was subsequently labeled as serial number “b2ff” and was correctly identified as a 23-year-old male with a “neutral” expression.
“Realtime Crowd Insights” is an Application Programming Interface (API), or a software tool that connects web applications to Microsoft’s cloud computing services. Through Microsoft’s emotional analysis API — a component of Realtime Crowd Insights — applications send an image to Microsoft’s servers.
With this proposed technology, the ability to screen a crowd to a much greater depth and more accurately could help to prevent a number of potentially dangerous circumstances. If people with ill-intentions were to attend a rally or other event, there would be an increased possibility that their emotions suggesting ill-intentions would be detected and brought to security’s attention.
Other large events where this type of security software could be of great use include sports events like the Superbowl, concerts or performances, festivals, speeches, etc. When large numbers of people gather together in one area for a specified event, there is always the risk of terror or tragedy striking, and therefore it is the organizers’ responsibility to ensure the safety of all attendees.
In ensuring this safety, the benefits from this available technology has the potential to outweigh the public’s concern of a breach of personal information. In the years to come, this characterization technology will be further tested and put to use in hopes that eventually it will help keep events free of consequential disturbances and disorderly occurrences conduct.