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Surveillance is proving to be very effective technique to ensure the feeling of safety and security among the people of a state. Traditionally surveillance was done manually using human patrolling by police and law maintaining bodies in the city. Then with the advent of CCTVs we started using video surveillance. Though there are many technologies to choose from but by making use of biometric technique, surveillance can become even more effective, as biometrics rely on one's physical characteristics which are don't change overnight and thus harder to deceive the system . In this report we have analyzed the various issues and challenges that come with the use this biometrics for surveillance. Then we have tried to find potential solutions to these issues and challenges. We have also described how biometrics can be used for the purpose of surveillance. So the main goal of this paper is to look into the deeper issues related to the use of this technology and provides a solution to it.

Chapter 1


1.1 Background

Dawn of the 21st century brought with it certain happenings that forced everyone to realize that safety and security are prime needs of every individual, organization, state and country. And it isn't surprising that biggest threat to one's security is the human element. A large sum of money is invested every year just for security by individuals, organization and nations. Individual wants to protect and guard their home; organizations have to guard their data and infrastructure. But when it comes to guarding a nation we need more powerful technologies. Security of a nation has becomes increasingly important especially since the aftermath of various large scale terror attacks we have seen in recent past. Surveillance has emerged as an effective technique to increase the security and guard the citizenry of a nation.

Before we start introducing how Biometrics can help in the process of surveillance it will be really helpful if we understand the meaning of these two terms biometrics and surveillance. In the past Biometrics has been increasingly used for the authentication purpose to enhance security of various systems. Biometrics makes use of our physical characteristic which is unique for every individual, this helps in unique identification. [1]

Surveillance which means observing or monitoring people from over a distance without physically bothering the subject, has became a common tool to enhance security now a days so much so that you will find CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras installed virtually everywhere. The word surveillance owes its origin to the French word for "watching over". [2]

Biometrics has mostly been used as a tool for solving the problems of reliably identifying a person. It has been widely used in identity management systems, where a person is granted access to various applications like entry into a room, access to a computer system, to execute a transaction or trigger a nuclear weapon, only once he has proved his identity i.e. the one he claims to be. [3]

1.2 Description of Research Area

In this report have described how the possible use of biometric techniques would enhance the existing surveillance systems and how it may possibly be used as a tool improves the level of security in the existing society. Since the aftermath of September 11 attacks surveillance has increased a lot. This has once again shifted the focus back to biometrics and the US government is making its use to guard their borders and airports from various possible attackers. [23] Every year huge amount of money is invested by the government in various technologies to improve the level of security to make the citizenry feel more secure and safe. Thus people have realized the importance of surveillance so a lot of work is going on in the field of remote biometrics. For instance research is being done on how to make use of face and gait biometrics for surveillance and few applications are already available for use and we can see few more new ones in near future.

We have also investigated how we can make use of biometrics to recognize the persons using their face or their gait even if they are a part of a huge crowd. This would be very useful to protect the society from well known criminals who are roaming around the city. Face and gait recognition won't be possible if we are not able to process the video or image data captured by the cameras and makes use of it for the recognition process. So this process requires use of image pattern recognition and processing. (Refer to Appendix 2 for details)

There are different kinds of surveillance techniques being used. However video surveillance is the most popular one. With the advent of CCTV (close circuit television) cameras we have seen a huge rise in them being employed for the surveillance purpose. Mostly they are employed by banks, organization holding sensitive information, airports, supermarket and shopping malls to keep an eye over people trying to breach security or trying to steal something.

They can monitor every activity of an individual even at places like restaurant and your own home. We have seen this concept of being shown in movies like "The Truman Show" and TV series like "Survivor" and "Big Brother". [14] Majority of these systems requires experienced staff that has to continuously looking at the live video feed on monitor to look for suspects. A normal system would have lot of cameras installed at various places and there would be one room where few people monitoring it all in the room. The video feed is often recorded on tapes in high security organizations and kept in case they need to monitor them again for some clues. So in way it will require full manual attention.

We have also tried to analyze all the major issues related to use of biometric technology for surveillance. Delving into the legal, ethical and privacy aspects and viewing them from the constitution point of view and also the point of view of a citizen. Then we have tried to provide possible solutions to those issues based on the research and study we did.

1.3 Purpose of Research

The purpose of research is to find out the views of the people regarding use of biometric technology for surveillance purpose. How they view the use of technology is affecting their life, and what more do they expect from the technology should have in future. Our findings would help us address the various issues related to use of biometric technology for surveillance in a better manner and help us suggest some possible solutions to solve those issues.

1.4 Goals and Target Audience

This report is targeted towards all those who use technology in day to day life and want to know in what ways it's affecting our life in both positive or negative ways, and what effects it is having on our privacy.. So basically it will make people more aware in what ways such a technology can affect our life and what needs to be done to avoid the technology taking complete control of our life like a big brother. So our audience can be both IT and non IT student and general people, as no one is untouched by surveillance in this era.

1.5 Limitations

Though there are many biometric techniques available but in our report rather in this report so we restricting our focus to only Face and Gait recognition. Reason being that these two technologies are really helpful for the purpose of surveillance and can be truly called as remote biometrics. Neither face nor gait biometrics require any contact with the person under observation. One can keep a watch over them from a distance. Given the limited time span we got for this research work our survey was restricted to limited number of people, not whole of the society. There wasn't much statistics available on use of surveillance globally, and any official poll or survey of a larger scale regarding how to people feel about it. Our respondents were limited to University students studying in Stockholm, so our results and findings would be based upon that. So it won't give a wholesome picture of everyone on this issue. The results might vary from what people across the globe think of the issue, we have tried to give reasoning for every such surprising results that we got.

Chapter 2

Research Methodology

2.1 Choice of Research Topic

Since every research begins with an idea or question. So we also began our research searching for a possible question related to the field of security. We went through various journals to search for a possible question for our research. We also made use of internet research for various possible areas of research in the field of security. We went through the book Security Engineering, A Guide to Building dependable distributed systems, by Ross Anderson to look for some good research topics. Also In our previous study period we had studied the book Computer Security: Art and Science by Matt Bishop. This book made us aware the biometrics field and its application related to security. We felt that it is a very powerful technology and its use can be extended in other areas as well. Since in this era safety and security has become one prime need of everyone we thought that use of biometric technology for the purpose of surveillance would make an interesting topic for our research. We also went through presentation on "Biometrics for Surveillance" by S. Kevin Zhou and Rama Chellappa , though we didn't use it in our report as it was highly loaded with technical things, but it helped us in choosing this research topic. We believe by the time we finish our research we would be able to address the existing major issues and challenges and try to give potential solution for those problems.

2.2 Research Questions

In this report we would address the following problems/research questions.

  • Legal, ethical and privacy issues related to use of biometrics for surveillance.
  • Views of university students on various issues related to biometrics and surveillance and those of people across the world.
  • Possible solutions to solve these Issues and future scope and use of the technology.

2.3 Review of Literature

2.3.1 Primary Literature

"Handbook of Remote Biometrics for Surveillance and Security" This book contains collection of various research papers related to the field of Remote Biometrics for identification of a person. Since our area remote biometrics, we selected this book; we found very good informative articles related to various issues and challenges we face in remote biometrics. The book had good collection of research in the field of face recognition. This proved really helpful for us for gaining an insight into the topic and understands the other deeper issues we face while implementing remote biometrics. Though there were some very good articles in this book but we made use of these two: Stan Z. Li, Ben Schouten, and Massimo Tistarelli, Biometrics at a Distance: Issues, Challenges, and Prospects by Meng Ao, Dong Yi, Zhen Lei, and Stan Z. Li , Face Recognition at a Distance: System Issues. Reason being that they helped us understand the various factors that act as stumbling blocks and prevent the use of biometric technology for surveillance in a very subtle manner. However we feel that they should have also had few papers related to gait biometrics as well in the book as this technology is also very effective when we mention remote biometrics.

"Biometrics: Identity Assurance in the Information Age" We found this book in KTH library and why we choose this was because of the fact that it covered the legal and privacy and ethical issues related to use of biometric technology very thoroughly and precisely. Also various real life examples and case studies presented in the book made interesting reading. The book was organized in various chapters with several authors having written a chapter. We used 3 papers from the book by John D. Woodward, Jr,, "Legal considerations of government use of biometrics", "Biometrics and Privacy" and "Case Study : Super Bowl Surveillance". This book was really very helpful for us to understand the deeper problems and consequences one may have to face if a technology isn't used in a proper manner. The legal consideration chapter dealt with the legal issues surrounding the use of biometric information of an individual. The chapter Biometrics and privacy was core part of our report. It helped us understand the how technology is invading our privacy in our day to day life and what rights and duties do we have to safeguard our self and to what extent we should allow technology to invade our life. In the next chapter Case Study: Super Bowl Surveillance, he has discussed about super-bowl event and how the biometric technology was used for surveillance and still the system failed to achieve its goal. Upon reading this chapter we were able to arrive at various possible recommendation and suggestions that needs to be incorporated.

"The Craft of Research" by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams This book was really helpful for us in trying to understand what actually research is and how and in what manner it should be done. Throughout our research work and report writing, this book proved to be a constant help. This book was recommended to us by our course instructor Mr. Harko Verhagen for Scientific Writing and Research Methodology course that we studied under him, his valuable teachings also helped a lot.

2.3.1 Secondary Literature

Ethical Issues in the Use of Biometric Technology by Dr Aziz Shaikh, This was a short but really good paper which talks about the various ethical issues involved in using biometric technology. Thing that really strike us about this paper was that was it very precise and to the point.

Biometric Technologies: Security, Legal, and Policy Implications by Paul Rosenzweig, Alane Kochems, and Ari Schwartz, We came across this very interesting article through regular Google search. It talks about the legal and political implications related to use of different biometrics techniques and also about various factors we must have in mind while assessing a technology whether it is suitable for being adopted or not .

Surveillance by Jerome Chou, Even though this was an old article but it described the effects of using surveillance cameras in New York City by the police department and highlighted the various issues raised by the residents. This was a base for the case study we did.

Biometrics Receives Public Acceptance, This contains study results about public acceptability of biometric techniques in USA, conducted by "Jamison Consulting and BrandMarketing Services". It was helpful to compare the results of our survey findings and see how close our results are to the real world.

How Face Recognition Surveillance Cameras Will Help Stop Future Campus Killers We used this article because it contained real life application of remote biometric techniques to control crimes in the schools and colleges.

Biometrics-A look at Facial Recognition by John D. Woodward, Jr., Christopher Horn, Julius Gatune, and Aryn, This article describes the process of face recognition and various technical difficulties we face while using it.

Gait Recognition Software Proposed for Surveillance at a Distance, This article provides knowledge by means of various experiments conducted on number of people to understand working of gait recognition system. It also reveals about main application areas of remote surveillance system.

Human Identification Based On Gait by Mark S. Nixon, Rama Chellappa, Tieniu Tan This book contain in depth about gait recognition system. We choose this book because of the fact that it covered all basics of gait recognition system and future gait developments. This book contains good study of human motion analysis and gait cycles and clearly establishes how human gait is a biometric in nature.

2.4 Initial Observation and Hypothesis

After going through the various literatures we found that people are nowadays under surveillance most of the time, and at times they don't even know whether they are under surveillance or not, such is the nature of the technology that it catches us unawares at times. Biometrics has increasingly been used for the purpose of surveillance, mostly because of the need of safety and security especially after various acts of terrorism in recent past. In Chandigarh city India they are already planning to make use of "Biometric Surveillance System" around airport, railway stations and marketplaces to spot out suspicious people from the crowd. This system will use Gait recognition. [22] According to a study conducted in UK, for every 14 people there's one CCTV camera available and around 4.2 million such cameras are present in UK. [3] (For details regarding how Face and Gait biometrics are used for surveillance please refer to Appendix 2, at the end of the report).

Many people are willing to let go their basic rights for the feeling of safety and security. However what people are forgetting is that they are losing their basic identity and personal liberty and freedom and privacy when the law enforcing body is making use of this technology to enhance the security. However there is a certain section of society that still advocates the need for privacy and is against the technology invading our private life. Though a lot of research is being done in the field of biometrics for extending its uses in other field like identification and authentication, research is also going on about how to use it for surveillance. But very few have looked down it from an individual point of view, how a normal individual views technology and its use. How it affects an individual's life and what one expects from the technology and how and in which manner one wants it to be used.

From all this study and reading we hypothesized from all that was that there was a need to keep a healthy balance between the use of technology and traditional methods and more laws need to be formulated and modification should to be done in the existing ones. We have seen point of view of both the individuals and the existing laws and policies we have in place and tried to find a possible solution to keep this healthy balance between so that the technology doesn't cross its line and step deep into our private life. So the survey we conduced was designed with these issues and questions in mind, so that it helps us in trying to find possible answers and solutions to the above problems.

2.5 Working Methodology

Based on the study and our initial findings we designed a survey on the website , this site enables users to create surveys with a possible end date and provides you the feature to make the survey accessible only to those whom you invite. Our respondents were sent the link and given briefing about the topic through a group email, with constant reminders so that we get enough responses to make our survey results are more fruitful. They were made acquainted of the topic by an introduction text we had in our email and what kind of answers we exactly are looking from this survey. Response to the survey was really good with 115 responses and lot of useful suggestions and comments. The survey maintained anonymity of the respondent, which was a good thing in a way as we ourselves were dealing with questions and issues related to individual's privacy and security. So it was good to have anonymity for our respondents so that they can voice their ideas and suggestions and opinions with full freedom and without any concerns, because at times anonymity is really good. Also off late there has been a big hue and cry about the right to remain anonymous from many groups and many scholars and academicians have advocated this idea as well.

A copy of the questionnaire is attached can be found in Appendix 1 at the end of report, where one can have a look at it, along with the respondent's comments and suggestions. The data that we got was purely empirical in nature i.e. based on real live experiments and our further study, research and findings is based upon that. It was a type of Cluster Analysis where we selected a particular group from the whole population.

2.6 Background Information

2.6.1 Respondents

Our respondents were IT Students in KISTA Campus (KTH and SU). They were intimated about the survey by sending links of our survey via an email. Majority of our respondents (94%) belonged to the age group of 20-30. It wasn't surprising as most of the masters students here are quite young in their 20's. Half of the total respondents knew about biometrics really well and 41% had heard of biometrics.

2.6.2 Questionnaire

The questionnaire began in a manner, by first throwing simple questions trying to know the background of the person and how much does the person know about this technology and then at the same time force them to think and make them acquainted with the topic so that they can answer the deeper and more important questions in a better manner. We also provided some introduction text to make people aware about what kind of survey they are about to take and some background information related to biometrics and surveillance.

Later on deeper and more important questions related to the various issues and challenges that we face while using biometrics for surveillance were asked. Most of these questions were related to privacy and invasive aspect of the technology in our life. The respondent had to choose from one among the given option which were designed in a manner so as to cover all possible opinions and answers one can expect when thrown with such a question. Beside that for getting suggestions and comments we had comments field in our survey, where one can put one's thoughts, suggestions and honest opinions.

Chapter 3

Issues and Challenges

3.1 Technical Issues

3.1.1 Factors Affecting System's Performance

Performance of a biometrics system is really affected by the following factor; they pose a major challenge for the system to perform well. They can be classified into following into categories.

  • Technological Aspect: It deals with image quality and issues like image being captured from different sources.
  • Environmental factors: if there is proper lighting or not and whether thing under surveillance is indoor or outdoor.
  • Users of the System : their facial expression , effect of ageing , hair growth
  • User-System Position: Alignments of the cameras and direction in which it is facing, and height of the user. [16]

Dr. James. L.Wayman, a biometric expert has explained the technical difficulties faced in a facial recognition surveillance system; he reckoned that it cannot be considered fully mature yet. Later the Facial recognition vendor Test 2000 proved that this system has not been perfected yet. [15]

There are some technical difficulties as well in the facial recognition surveillance system. In uncontrolled environment identifying faces is very difficult because of lighting (that means shadows, glare) and also with camera angle. And if subject is not looking at camera or if the person wearing hat, sunglasses etc then also the surveillance system cannot capture proper image of the subjects face. Also sometimes the subjects are non cooperative. If we can control the environment and subject's pose, camera angle and lighting condition then we can yield very good results. [15]

3.1.2 Other Factors

Variable Lighting Problem:

Mostly the methods employed for face recognition makes use of CCD or CMOS cameras to capture images of one's face. A big issue for such system is coping up with the varying lighting condition. As a face's details won't be captured well if lights keep varying and an image of same face taken in different lighting condition can result in the face looking slightly different. In order to counter it algorithms that are stable under even varying lighting conditions are being developed. Also making use of 3D (three dimension) vision is being considered, but it suffers from factors like increased cost and it may not necessarily result in better performance compared to a 2D one. [16]

Another commonly adopted technique is making use of near infrared NIR imaging; infrared is invisible light so its performance is not affected by variable lighting conditions. On the other hand a visible light's performance deteriorates under variable light. So having a non varying stable lighting condition solves the problem to a large extent. This technology has been used successfully by various banks, enterprises and law enforcing bodies and immigration control authorities. [16]

Issue of face recognition through a video:

When we are trying to perform facial recognition making using of video captured by a surveillance camera there can be few problems we might encounter. The resolution of the facial image taken by the camera is very low than it will degrade the performance of the recognition process. Also if one's face is out of focus of the camera lens, it results in blurred images and so many details would be missed affecting the process of recognition. Another issue is when the person under surveillance is under constant fast motion or the camera is shaking that results in so called motion blur. [16]

3.2 Non Technical Issues

3.2.1 Legal Issues

Most of the biometric systems currently under practice are under the control of government, who are making use of them in order to ease and aid them in enforcing law. But there are few questions that need to be answered before we can adopt the biometric techniques as a tool for enforcing the law. Like what would happen when an individual provides his characteristics to avail some benefits from the government? What rights and responsibilities does that individual have? Are we entitled to deny the government our biometric characteristics, and if so under what circumstances? What kind of information is being saved about us and in which form? Who will oversee this information? Who has the rights to have the access to this information? [21]

To answer these questions we should view them in the light of the law and constitution of the particular country under question. As no two countries will have exactly the same laws. So an individual can drag the government to court if the constitution and law entitles him to do so. According to the US Supreme Court "There is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter". This realm which we can consider as our zone of privacy contains the rights that every individual is entitled to have (fundamental rights). [17]

3.2.2 Ethical Issues:

The ethical issues are very closely related to the privacy issues. They have more to do with determining what is right or what is wrong answer to which is very personal. What is right for someone might be wrong for some other person. So it depends a lot on the culture, beliefs, religion, values and education of an individual. Like making use of surveillance cameras for monitoring our employees, a neighbor etc is completely unethical. Unless there is a real need to justify the use of it we should not use it. Making use of it just for fun and offending the fellow people is completely unethical even if the law permits to do so. Also in many religions and cultures even taking image of one's is considered offending. Every culture has got their own set of practices, view and beliefs which they follow. So we should respect and honor them while using the technology. Anyone's privacy should not be disrupted by using this system along with his beliefs and values. [18]

3.2.3 Privacy Issues:

When an individual is under surveillance he is exposing lot of personal details of his. The information taken from him can be used by a secondary source and that may cause unnecessary annoyance to the person. An example of this is that you visit a supermarket and the CCTVs there have monitored your buying habits , and when you have paid your bills after few days you start getting letters about various offers related to your interest that the sales team guessed by looking at your buying habits. They managed to get your address through the credit card company and by searching your name. Also if you go to a medical clinic for some treatment and the computer over there keeps all the information. If someone manages to get hands on that data, and then start sending you offer about various medicines and healthcare products, its sheer breach of your privacy. [19] If a person is going through a tough time facing lot of problem in life and through surveillance his problems become public. Would that be considered right? Off course no. [14]

Sometimes when we use a biometric technology it might capture more than necessary details needed, that hurts the privacy a lot. Also use of this technology leads to loss of anonymity and this is one of the biggest complaints against the use of biometrics technology. [19]

In words of Roger Clarke a noted Australian scholar who has done work in the field of human identification and privacy "the need to identify oneself may be intrinsically distasteful to some people". As there are many people who always prefer to remain anonymous even if they are doing some good work that would bring them fame. [19]

Types of Privacy

According to US constitution the privacy has been categorized into following 3 types.

    Physical Privacy: it means that a person has the freedom to be free from any devices monitoring him. The law protects him from unwarranted home capturing or searching and allows him to secure his own home, family and property. [17]

    Decisional privacy: an individual should be free to make his own choices about his intimate and personal matters and the government has no right to interfere in it. So decision like when will I marry, and with whom, how I am growing my kids should be left alone to me to decide. One very famous example of decisional privacy is women's right to have an abortion. As it's a personal and very intimate decision and government shouldn't interfere in it. [17]

    Informational Privacy: According to scholar Alan Weston famous for his studies in field of Privacy and Freedom it is "the claim of the individual to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent information about them is communicated to others". [17]

3.3 Case Studies

3.3.1 Super Bowl Surveillance

When we are having a large event like super bowl where the crowd is huge and at times things can become hard to manage. These sort of event attract lot of attention from terrorists and criminals, if they are successful it may result in huge loss of life and property. In the event held at Tampa, Florida in 2001, the authority enforcing the law was making use of a facial recognition technology. About 20 surveillance cameras were employed to capture actions of people entering the stadium. The images of people captured were captured and matched against a template of known terrorists and criminals. If a match was found the system would alert the police on duty who can then go to the spot and nab the suspect. [20]

Finally at the end of the event computer matches found were 19 but there were no arrests made, so it wasn't possible to judge the true matches and all of them were assumed to be false matches. Unless the police officer on duty personally goes and verifies the suspect's identity only then it would be considered a true match. Thus we saw that a powerful technology failed miserably at such an event of high security requirement. So we can't always rely and trust the technology so much. The reasons for its failure might be that the intruder when he felt that he was caught by camera managed to flee or deceive the police officers on duty. [20]

This incident made people really question the effectiveness of this technology. It also led to comments like "Yes big Brother is watching your face". Viewing this from the law point of view, the court reckoned that at a public event like this people should expect less privacy as their physical characteristics like face is constantly exposed. So lawfully it's okay to have such a system in place, even though ethically it may be wrong to have it. [20]

3.3.2 Use of Surveillance in New York

In this section we are analyzing the effects of the use of surveillance cameras at various residential colonies in New York City by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in a bid to bring down the crime rate and make the residents feel more secure. The results are based on the study conducted in year 2000.

According to an old lady living in Harlem, Coleman in New York, she hasn't heard of any acts of vandalism ever since the NYPD installed surveillance cameras in 97. Some residents in the same area are concerned as they feel that even though it is aiding the cops, but its harassing sincere residents who are abiding by the law. In words of one resident "It is safer around here, but it's wrong the way they do it". Though people have differences of opinions on use of surveillance but one thing they can't deny is that it exists and it will exist. These tactics of police were compared with the tactics of "stop-and-frisk" they usually employ in places where crime rate is high. [14]

Looking at the statistics there were 2397 surveillance cameras in Manhattan of which 2000 belonged to private organizations. Over a quarter million New Yorkers were being captured daily at various places in the city. If we look at its positive effects, the major crimes in housing societies went down by 13.3% and overall a decrease of 25% among all major crimes in the year 1998-99. NYPD had maintained a database of student's pictures, which they suspected might resort to crime when they grow up, and they had urged the people in localities to form a group and help the police willingly or unwillingly. Another aspect that came to light was the possibility of voyeurism thrill might tempt people to misuse the technology, this thing was completely ignored. In the end people were forced to accept it and say that as long as they don't peek into our houses we are somewhat okay with the surveillance. [14]

So what we saw from this case was that even though use of surveillance will increase security which is going to benefit people and society, but still people are reluctant to accept it at the cost of losing their privacy and anonymity.

Chapter 4

Results and Findings

4.1 Survey Results

On the basis of the short survey that we conducted on a particular group of people (in this case the IT Students KTH and SU), using internet resources (, we found out following things. We had 115 responses to our survey which seemed a pretty good number considering the limited time span we had for conducting the survey. Our survey started on 11th November, 2009 and ended on 1st January, 2010 so that further responses doesn't change the results we had got and affect the one we had at the time of writing our report.

However coming to the questions of whether people knew about biometric or not. Only 50% knew about it very well and 41% just heard of it, while 9% had no idea about it. 61% of the respondents had actually used a biometric device or technology at some point or the other while 13% of them may have used it but never realized. Reason for this maybe the fact that sometimes we even when we use a technology and never realize that we used it. For example we were at an airport and went through some biometric scanner but we didn't know what exactly that thing was, or sometimes we are being under observation without any knowledge. However a large percentage of people (26%) had never used it. Reasons for this can be user concerns about losing his privacy, anonymity or identity. So it has to do a lot with the ethical and privacy issues that we discussed in the previous chapter.

Most of the people had used either finger print (59%) or facial recognition (12%). Reasons for this can be the fact that fingerprint scanners are very cheap and available in abundance, also now even a decent laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner and a webcam that can help in facial recognition making use of required software. Also fingerprint technology has been very popular always mainly because people are not afraid to present their palm or fingers when asked for. However people are still very scared to use retinal or iris scanner because they feel it might blind or affect their eyes. Fingerprint and voice verification is easily acceptable to people because of the awareness aspect, they see use of technology in films and day to day life. [24]

34% of the respondents admitted that they have been under surveillance at some point or the other and 24% though having been under surveillance never realized it. Maybe because nowadays there are so many hidden CCTV cameras installed everywhere, so we get the feeling no one is watching us, but some big brother's eye is constantly monitoring every step of ours.

Roughly about one third of the respondents agreed that they feel restricted or offended while being under surveillance. Majority of the respondents agreed that surveillance is good to increase the security, of which 42% strongly agreed to it. It maybe because of the various terrorists attacks in the last decade; people have started realizing that surveillance is indeed important.

There was a kind of mixed response to the question of whether the person has been concerned about issues related to privacy when being under surveillance with 41% of them saying yes and 28% were not sure and 30% of them were not much concerned about it. Again it can attributed to the fact that some people let go their privacy needs and maybe they feel much secure in surveillance environment , where they think they would to protected from any sort of attacks.

In a study conducted by "Jamison Consulting and BrandMarketing Service" in USA, regarding biometrics acceptability, over 80% people thought they would be okay to let some part of their biometric feature to be recorded. Majority of the people believed that government should make use of biometrics to enhance the existing level of security. However 60% people felt that they were concerned about misuse of private information captured about them. [24]

So the survey clearly shows that there are some people who want paramount security at the cost of privacy and there are some people who still consider their basic privacy needs are more important.

4.2 Comments and Suggestions from Respondents

There were some very useful comments and suggestions that we got from our respondents including few very good comments.

One person suggested that fingerprint should replace conventional PIN system and surveillance can be used to prevent credit card thefts. Another one said that using biometrics for surveillance is like adding salt and pepper to food and it would be really beneficial for the society. Another very nice but critical comment was that "Biometrics for Surveillance is really good but it's expensive & also risky considering the fact that people can go to any extent to get access to some place thereby jeopardizing the person's life".

One person said that being under surveillance is really good from security point of view and people shouldn't feel restricted and scared rather they should feel that they are under the watchful eyes of god and feel safe and secure. One interesting comment was this "Biometric surveillance provides good security to the institutions; it can prevent malpractices and theft in the country. Regarding health aspects it can give a good indicator of diseases and human epidemiology report can be tracked".

One critical comment was that "I wouldn't want it to fall into hands of terrorists or some overzealous government guys" and one person also raised similar concern that overuse of this technology will lead to a feeling personal insecurity. One suggestion was that it can be used to guard and protect the important data and the moderate cost of using the technology will make it commercially more viable.

Another critically comment came across was this "I think that it's necessary to have some specific places like banks, companies etc under surveillance in order to be more secure, but on the other hand why someone should have the right to know the private life of "innocent" people? A decade ago everything was ok but the last few years governments found the perfect way to intrude in our lives having of course a very good excuse, called terrorism".

4.3 Moving Towards Potential Solutions

After conducting this study and research we found that the following could be the potential solutions for solving the various issues and challenges we saw related to use of biometrics for surveillance.

We must look towards developing more reliable systems which yields more accurate result. As we see that lot of inventions and innovation in the field of technology are going on worldwide, resulting in the older technology becoming obsolete and being replaced by the newer one. Sometimes it might happen that a new technology has already arrived but the law concerning it is yet to be passed or implemented, or takes too long a time to be passed by the court. This might result in misuse of the technology so we should ensure that laws should be formulated and implemented sooner and faster before the technology becomes common and readily available to everyone. They shouldn't wait till the technology has done enough damage or raised lot of eyebrows and voices, which then acts as an eye opener and authorities realize that something needs to be done in this regard. So the government should have an eye for future and formulate laws for the emerging technologies as soon as they are launched and also modify the existing ones to remove the flaws in them.

The authority maintaining the database used for the identification purpose should be answerable for questions like what information is authorized to reside in the database". Why is it needed and for how long and under what circumstances it can be shared with others. Biometric data of person stored as a template should be reviewed and updated periodically only then we can keep track of suspected peoples. Also the government should use the technology openly so that public fears about its use vanish, and there should also be more transparency which can be achieved by making public aware about how the technology works. [20] We should also have a body where both the government and the public can be actively involved, where one can voice their views, share their problems and talk about related issues and government can then take the required action. And the government should also consider the voices of the people before formulating any laws.

Our efforts should focus more on identifying the specific circumstances where we really need a surveillance system. Sometimes we might be tempted to try such a system in say places like a coffee shop to monitor the visitors or a small company to monitor their employees. But we need to ask our self do we really need it at the cost of harming and breaching one's privacy. So such systems should be used at places where very high security is needed, like very busy International Airports, departments containing information crucial to security of the nation etc. [20]

Since the technology in use currently is not fully reliable. There have been instances when attackers have managed to easily deceive the technology which was considered to be fool proof. We must work towards developing integrating the existing technology with other newer and more reliable ones, so help towards development of more trusted system. And we mustn't solely rely on technology alone to protect us. We shouldn't forget the human element, so we must make use of both the technology and the human element in a healthy proportion so that it solves our need of safety and security and at the same time it ensures that there isn't any compromise of our privacy and other basic fundamental rights.

Chapter 5


In this report we analyzed the need for biometric techniques for the purpose of surveillance and security, and then we looked into the various issues that we have to deal with if we want to use the system. There were few technical and non technical issues, the non technical issues like legal, ethical and privacy issues are very important as we can't use or implement any technology in a way that if offends the law and is against the ethics and hurts the basic privacy needs of people. And we also gave some recommendations that should be implemented to solve few of these issues.

Later on we analyzed the survey that we had conducted and published our findings along with useful user comments and suggestions that we got from the respondents. Looking at most of the comments we got a feeling that so many people would still let go their privacy rights and needs in lieu of a safety and security. Many people still feel that being under the watchful eyes can be considered secure. It's mainly because of the various terrorists attacks in the last decade, people have started realizing that surveillance is indeed important even though at comes at the cost of compromising on our need for privacy.

We would like to say that no doubt biometrics is very good for surveillance and even more effective to provide security, but it shouldn't be used in such a way that it offends the basic fundamental rights of an individual. We need to keep a healthy balance between the use of technology and traditional methods and more laws need to be formulated and modification should to be done in the existing ones to fix the various loopholes they have. Also there should be a limit and purpose of how and where to use the technology, it shouldn't be randomly used at one's will , only if it's really very essential and required then only we should consider its use.

Scope for Future Research

In future we need to look for alternative ways and technologies that can aid to the existing ones and helps us solve or minimize the issues and challenges that we discussed in this report. We need to develop more mature and reliable systems as the ones currently in use are not 100% reliable and shall never be when it comes to results. In future we can also see development of advanced security applications in the field of healthcare, multimedia and for controlled environment. [3]

As our research was limited to only a certain section of the crowd so we expect that more research should we done involving larger group of people. The people can be from different backgrounds and professions and age group and culture. And how different sections of crowd view the use of biometrics for surveillance and feel about it. Based on these studies and research we can hope to solve some of the major issues that are yet to be solved.

Respondents Comments and Suggestions:

  • I think they could be employed in the banking industries and finger print recognition can be used to replace PINs to ensure a more secure system. This will be very useful for surveilling credit card thieves.
  • Biometrics for surveillance purpose is good for the society because it's like adding pepper and salt to food, without which a good food is not complete. I want Biotech to attain new levels like introduce Safer Biometric weapons which can be used against infiltrators
  • Though biometrics is helpful in various ways, they don't handle failure well, once when our biometric is stolen, it remains stolen for life, there's no getting back to a secured situation.
  • Its serves a good purpose of protecting the data. Moderate cost of using it and its advanced features makes it even more commercially viable.
  • I feel it is good to some extend but anything that crosses its limit will definitely create problem. I feel over use of this techniques will sometimes lead to personal insecurity.
  • Maybe in the next few decades it will be useful, for security reasons, to prevent terrorism, but on the other hand no one prefers to be surveillance. But it has a very important role in future.
  • I think that it's necessary to have some specific places like banks, companies etc under surveillance in order to be more secure, but on the other hand why someone should have the right to know the private life of "innocent" people? A decade ago everything was ok but the last few years governments found the perfect way to intrude in our lives having of course a very good excuse, called "terrorism".
  • Biometric surveillance provides good security to the institutions, it can prevent malpractices and theft in the country, regarding health aspects it can give a good indicator of diseases and human epidemiology report can be tracked.
  • Biometrics should be made a must for surveillance, especially a DNA or retina scan as these are unique for an individual and cannot be duplicated in any way. The same can be used for identification purposes too.
  • Biometrics is really very good... I feel it makes a surveillance place a crime free one .. People will feel more comfortable in surveillance area.. They should feel like God watching them instead of feeling restricted.
  • Security is necessary but that should not be maintained at the cost of people's privacy.
  • Biometrics for Surveillance is really good but it's expensive & also risky considering the fact that people can go to any extent to get access to some place thereby jeopardizing the person's life.
  • I would say it is a technological boon but still it has its own limitations and drawbacks like what I have experienced Voice Recognition technique fails sometime, similarly, fingerprint method can be duplicated if a person gets to know about his fingerprint pattern, but it's somewhat quite safe. Other technologies I don't know much about them.

Appendix 2

Using Biometric for Surveillance

2.1 Face Recognition for surveillance

Facial recognition is very useful for surveillance, because surveillance main aim is keep an eye on the public. Among all biometric techniques facial recognition is one such technology which can be is contactless technology (along with gait recognition) i.e. we can monitor the subject without any physical contact or bothering him to use the device. So this can be really helpful in identifying known criminals and terrorist who are out in the city planning for their next target. Due to all these benefits the US Department of defence also started using the technology to good effect for surveillance and security. [4]

2.1.1 How it works?

Now let's see how the facial recognition system works. The biometric facial recognition system uses the faces of persons to identify and verify person's identity. It is done in the following manner.

  1. In the first step an electro optical camera captures the image of the person. It is done by capturing a video of the person, and images can be extracted from that video.
  2. In the second step facial recognition software will be deployed in the surveillance system to detect only the faces in the captured image. This task should be performed effectively so the software should take the face patterns correctly along with all the details needed for identification.
  3. Based on one's biometric feature we then generate a template which contains only features unique to a person. It doesn't care about your hairstyle and facial hair and other similar features.
  4. In fourth step it compares the captured image template with already known images in database.
  5. In the final stage it performs the matching process and declares the result. [5]

The facial recognition for surveillance is a systematic process. We do it by making use of CCTV cameras to monitor the public places with aid of trained employees. In some cases the criminal or wanted person might escape this systematic process by running away from that place or trying to cover their face. A solution to the problem can be that if a match has been found the system generates an alarm that alerts the officer present at that place. In this verification process well known trained officer are required to perform these actions. Then the officer must forward an alert to the other officers who are at that place where the person's image was captured so that the person can be captured. [4]

National Facial Recognition surveillance works are based on this concept only. We can find criminals, suspected terrorists, by sending video streams over that network place. That requires arranging video cameras in all suitable places. [4]

2.1.3 Application of the Technology

These facial recognition systems are useful in many sectors like schools, corporate companies, airports, shopping malls as we can find easily dangerous people who are roaming around in disguise. One real-time example of using facial recognition is the recent great vulnerability in NIU (Northern Illinois University) where one student shot his teacher with a bullet but got captured in video camera. So in order to protect teachers from such dangerous students they employed facial recognition cameras in classrooms and other open areas in the university. Another application of facial recognition system is its use in private companies. The surveillance cameras installed there helped to prevent hourly employees from purchasing timecards on behalf of their friends who are absent thus helping the company save lot of money and minimize losses and frauds in the longer run. [4]

Using CCTV camera's networks along with a big distributed network of sensor is very common in Britain. Use of biometrics has enabled us to develop more advanced security applications for keeping a watch on blacklisted shoplifters, detecting unusual behavior of people. [3]

2.2 Gait Recognition for Surveillance

Gait recognition is another very useful biometric technique that can be employed for surveillance purpose. In gait recognition an individual is identified by the way they walk or run. This is a very new technology so a lot of research work is going on nowadays in this field. It is very useful for monitoring the public who are just walking unaware of the fact that they are being monitored. Because this is an unobtrusive biometric technique, we can capture someone's walking pattern even in a large crowd and low visibility. Gait recognition is motivated by automated recognition system for monitoring and visual surveillance. Gait Recognition is of two types, one is model-based and the other silhouette based approach. In this paper we are explaining gait recognition by considering silhouette based approach. Some researchers in India who had worked on the gait recognition explained that gait of a human is motion characteristic of individual, gait of a person is unique which makes recognition easier. [7]

2.2.1 Silhouette Approach

In silhouette approach the background of the captured image is removed fully and the subject's image in either fully black or white is against a blank background. The walking style of person is thus converted into silhouette and then statistical analysis is performed using Shannon entropy technique. For good results we capture person image side on so that we can clearly capture his walking style and the way both the feet's move. Then image processing techniques are implemented to extract gait of a person for recognition. [8]

In a research conducted by an Indian team carried over a group of 20 persons, through a series of tests they recorded different walking styles such as walking in straight, normal speed, back and forth in front of a camera and by placing video camera perpendicular to the path. Then they implemented Shannon entropy with individual person's height. The results revealed that recognition system was sensitive to the changes, when viewing on more than 10 degrees. But the system worked well even when person changed the walking speed. [7]

2.2.2 How Gait Recognition Works

First biometric sample of gait of a person has to be obtained under some environmental conditions. These samples are then stored in a database and are used later on to perform comparison at the time of recognition. Human gait can be affected by some environmental contexts, which can be, like the walking surface or if one is carrying objects, temperature and also by clothing, shoes worn and physical injuries etc. [10]

We can overcome these problems by recognizing a person by combining different classifiers with the environmental contexts. We can combine two or more gait classifiers which are suitable for different environmental contexts like when same person walks on different surfaces we can calculate the large difference between the detected image (silhouette) and stored image. For example if a person walking on glass surface the silhouette may miss bottom part of feet, and on the concrete surface the silhouette may contain shadows, to avoid these type of affects we have to implement classifiers. [12]

2.2.3 Other Applications

To identify well known criminals who are roaming around fearlessly in the city in disguise, from a large crowd. Identifying shoplifters and especially those who are pretending to be pregnant women, as their walking pattern would be different from those who are really pregnant. In sports like golf, cricket the way we hit the ball and how our body moves is very important. A good and correct body position helps us in hitting the ball long and correctly. So we can make use of gait biometrics to observe patterns of established sportsperson and then train the youngster to follow their pattern by seeing their gait. This way the youngsters can improve their game. [13]

2.2.4 Limitations

It is possible that some expert criminals can alter their walking style and thus they can deceive the system. Also if the crowd is too large we might find it hard to capture gait of every individual thus few suspects may get away from getting caught. [13]


Hyperlinks and URL's last visited on 8th Feb, 2010

  1. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, "Biometrics".
  2. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, "Surveillance"
  3. Stan Z. Li, Ben Schouten, and Massimo Tistarelli, Biometrics at a Distance: Issues, Challenges, and Prospects, Handbook of Remote Biometrics for Surveillance and Security, Springer, 2009
  4. How Face Recognition Surveillance Cameras Will Help Stop Future Campus Killers
  5. John D. Woodward, Jr., Christopher Horn,Julius Gatune, and Aryn Thomas, Biometrics-A look at Facial Recognition, (Prepared for the Virginia State Crime Commission)
  7. Gait Recognition Software Proposed for Surveillance at a Distance
  8. National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition (NLPR), Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASIA)
  9. Xi Chen, Zhihai He, Derek Anderson, James Keller, and Marjorie Skubic, Adaptive Silhouette Extraction and Human Tracking in Dynamic , 2006
  10. Mark S. Nixon, Rama Chellappa, Tieniu Tan, Human Identification Based On Gait (international Series On Biometrics), Springer, 2005
  12. Liang Wang, Tieniu Tan, Senior Member, IEEE, Huazhong Ning, and Weiming Hu, Silhouette Analysis-Based Gait Recognition for Human Identification, IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE, VOL. 25, NO. 12, DECEMBER 2003
  13. Biometric Technology
  14. [
  15. Surveillance by Jerome Chou
  16. Face Recognition Technology
  17. Meng Ao, Dong Yi, Zhen Lei, and Stan Z. Li , Face Recognition at a Distance: System Issues , Handbook of Remote Biometrics for Surveillance and Security, Springer, 2009
  18. John D. Woodward, Jr., Legal considerations of government use of biometrics, Biometrics: Identity Assurance in the Information Age, McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2003
  19. Dr Aziz Shaikh, "Ethical Issues in the Use of Biometric Technology"
  20. John D. Woodward, Jr, , Biometrics and Privacy, Biometrics: Identity Assurance in the Information Age, McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2003
  21. John D. Woodward, Jr, , Case Study : Super Bowl Surveillance, Biometrics: Identity Assurance in the Information Age, McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2003
  22. Paul Rosenzweig, AlaneKochems, and Ari Schwartz, "Biometric Technologies: Security, Legal, and Policy Implications", June 2004 ( )
  24. Biometrics: Who's Watching You?
  25. Biometrics Receives Public Acceptance According to Study by Jamison Consulting