Mall of America introduces new facial recognition security system

New security at Mall of America

Mall of America officials announced Wednesday they will be incorporating a new facial recognition technology into its security systems.

“For lawful purposes, it would probably be good, but it’s also kind of an invasion of privacy,” Earl Daigre, MOA visitor, said.

When shoppers walk through the doors, they’re a step away from a facial scan.

“Hearing about the technology is kind of amazing. It makes me feel safer,” Ana Dixon, MOA visitor, said.

The Mall of America launched facial recognition technology for an extra layer of security after fighting and shooting incidents within the last few years.

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“Our system is not scanning faces to go find out who you are,” Will Bernhjelm, Mall of America VP of security, said.

The mall’s head of security said the technology scans the faces of shoppers for one reason, which is to find a person of interest.

“People who have been trespassed from Mall of America, people that may be a threat to our environment, people who are made known to us by law enforcement,” Bernhjelm said.

Officials said photos of persons of interest are uploaded into the system. The digital images of shoppers are ran through a database to look for a match.

If the photo is not flagged, the images are not stored in the system, but if an alert goes off it triggers a further investigation.

“We also retained a third-party expert to come in and take a look at the system to make sure there’s no algorithm bias. We’re confident that it has a 99.3 accuracy rating to make sure we’re not misidentifying people,” Bernhjelm said.

Security officials will also check the match to make sure they have the right person.

A sign off to the side of one of the entrances lets visitors know about the technology, but some shoppers said the notice should be more clear.

“Something you can very clearly see like when you walk through the door,” Nino Moretti, MOA visitor, said.

This is one of many security measures implemented in the last year including metal detectors and a K-9 unit.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked officials if they have any data showing these practices are working.

Security officials said it’s hard to measure deterrence, but they’ll be able to track progress with this facial recognition technology.

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