Ted Simons: The Phoenix Convention Center earlier this year hosted the 8th Annual Border Security Expo. The two-day event attracted policymakers, members of law enforcement and a number of vendors. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana visited the exhibit hall where it seemed no move went unnoticed.
Vendor: It offers night vision capability.
Vendor: We do people counting. Reverse flow detection. We count the individuals on a 15-minute increment.
Christina Estes: Among more than 100 companies showing off their latest tools --
Vendor: This is called the Dragon Runner 20.
Christina Estes: It was a small, quiet booth that really caught our eyes.
Kevin Haskins: We're showing the premier facial recognition software.
Christina Estes: Cognatech system is a German company with a powerful reach.
Kevin Haskins: It’s being used in airports, around the world. The camera captures your face and it's using pattern technology to look at this part of your face. Just above your eyebrow to just above your lip. There's patterns and contours within your face just like a fingerprint.
Christina Estes: From a single image Haskin says they can determine with a degree of certainty your race, gender and age within about five years. They can verify you're the person on your passport or driver's license or run your face through a watch list or suspect database. When it comes to more challenging pictures---
Kevin Haskins: Running recognition right now we still have enough from the face to come up with a hit. But that's generally not good enough.
Christina Estes: They put a 2D image into a 3D recognition level to generate facial characteristics.
Kevin Haskins: With that information -- we now have a match-up of suspect at this point.
Christina Estes: They collect location information too. If a person is showing up somewhere more often than usual Haskins says they can alert police.
Kevin Haskins: We're talking about facial recognition, not anything that a human can't do. We're just making it faster, quicker and more reliable.
Joe Battaglia: This is used to surveillance large areas of the border.
Christina Estes: New York-based Telephonics already has more than 20 truck-mounted systems along our southern border. This is their latest model.
Joe Battaglia: He's got maps of the local area on his computer. He can expand, he can zoom in on certain areas right down to a street level, down to a house level. He can actually see what's going on.
Christina Estes: The mast can reach 30-feet high with cameras that can track people ten miles away.
Joe Battaglia: We have found we have numerous international opportunities for this. As you well know, there are lots and lots of borders around the world with lots and lots of people that don't like each other.
Christina Estes: For those who don't like the possible invasion of privacy, Battaglia says --
Joe Battaglia: You can't have it both ways. The system is built to defend the people, and in order to do that you have to have knowledge of what's going on in the area. The only way you can do that is through some of the electronic devices that we have.
Christina Estes: In 1996, Swedish company Axis Communications became the first to release a surveillance camera that could transmit data through the internet.
John Merlino: The way it's used has to be purposeful. I don't know that it needs to be regulated. Certainly I wouldn't say that, but it has to be done in a way that respects people's privacy. If people can use technology not just cameras to make their environment safer; they are generally in favor of it.
Christina Estes: Safety is not the only selling point. Retailers are using it to save and make money.
Kevin Haskins: If the shoplifter comes in, security receives the alert. If it's a VIP, concierge or buyer's assistant may receive that notice.
Christina Estes: Businesses also like to break down the demographics so they can figure out who is shopping when and where they are spending the most time.
Kevin Haskins: I was asked where do you see this in ten years? I can't tell you where it will be in six months. The technology is so evolving, so advancing that with our company what we're doing I'm amazed six months from now what we'll be releasing.
Ted Simons: It says the company prefers to partner with universities to work with young minds that might help come up with the next technological advancement.
Ted Simons: Thursday we'll talk about a disputed report that suggests cap water users may face shortfalls. We'll get the latest science news from physicist Lawrence Krauss. That's Thursday evening, 5:30 and 10, right here on "Arizona Horizon."
Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.