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Facial Recognition, Banned by Minneapolis, in at Mall of America

The technology was taken off the table in 2021 for Minneapolis police and city agencies. But Minnesota’s Mall of America is using it for security, “identifying individuals of interest.”

Mall of America 4
The Mall of America is visited by 40 million people annually. Photo courtesy of the Mall of America.
Mall of America
(TNS) — The Mall of America is now using facial recognition technology to improve security by tracking persons of interest, the mall announced.

The technology will only be used to track persons of interest, which includes people "who are currently on a trespass at Mall of America, those who may be a threat to our environment, persons identified to us by law enforcement, or individuals who are missing or may be in danger," the mall said in a statement.

Photos of individuals of interest are uploaded to the recognition software and the technology looks for matches to those photos. If there is a match, the system alerts the security team, which launches a further investigation, the Bloomington-based mall said.

The tech does not track or keep information on people who are not of interest, the mall said.

"At 5.6 million square feet, our officers cannot be everywhere at once," said Will Bernhjelm, vice president of security at Mall of America. "Utilizing this cutting-edge technology will allow us to more quickly do what we are already doing: identifying individuals of interest and keeping Mall of America and its guests safe."

Mall security is trained in traditional facial recognition to learn how to compare facial features to determine whether the software alert is a match. Following human review, mall officers will approach a potential person of interest and follow standard security procedures.

Facial recognition technology has been shown to misidentify people of color at higher rates. AI-based facial recognition has lead to wrongful arrests and have poorest accuracy rates with persons who are young, Black and female.

In nearby Minneapolis, the technology was banned for use by police and other city agencies in 2021.

The mall's vendor, Corsight AI, has been tested by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

"It is by all accounts, best in class. In the DHS testing, the algorithm correctly identified individuals 99.3% of the time," the mall said.

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