How the Refuge increased security


The need for emergency accommodation is at record levels across the western world. Post COVID economic pressures have forced many to become homeless. These worsening conditions have also seen a consistent rise in domestic violence, adding to the growing need for medium and long-term accommodation.

The Refuge provides much needed emergency accommodation in this working-class city of almost half a million people.

Guests are usually homeless and often bought in by police or introduced through charities or government agencies. They include victims of domestic violence or people seeking refuge from a person with an Apprehended Violence Order, those waiting to get into detox centres, parolees, and guests with mental health or drug problems.

Key issues:

The challenge

The Refuge often houses up to 180 people a night and is manned 24/7 with security personnel. There is a strict 9pm curfew however guests are constantly trying to bring in friends after curfew which puts other guests at risk and contravenes residential compliance.

With a significant percentage of guests involved in relationship disputes, there is a constant danger from ex-partners accessing the Refuge. Many of these individuals have been issued with an AVO (apprehended violence order) which forbids them seeing their partner however some do still try to access the property.

The Refuge has always had CCTV surveillance and it’s quite normal for security personnel to spend up to 10 hours per week going through a CCTV footage to find information generally requested by the police or other authorities associated with incidents involving guests or their visitors. With each security office costing $50 per hour, this is an extremely inefficient use and expensive use of resources.

The results

The Refuge installed Verifyfaces in late 2022. The complex manager Mohommed said they use the image gallery function to monitor threats to guests from unwanted visitors. If the Verifyfaces system detects a match against the image gallery an alert is sent to the security team.

No biometric data is stored on residents or general members of the public, only people identified as a public risk.

The Refuge uses external security personnel who often change so it was also difficult and time consuming to make sure they weren’t potential offenders. With Verifyfaces they are automatically approved when they arrive on-site.

Many guests have a history of drug use which attracts drug traffickers. The Refuge is on constant alert for these individuals. “Using the Eagle Eye Networks analytics and Verifyfaces facial recognition, we can immediately spot a person or vehicle we have previously had a problem with and have our security team intervene.” Mohommed said.

Thanks to the natural language-based search function, security personnel can locate and tag images in seconds where it used to take hours. According to Mohommed, “It is as easy as searching the web. You can simply type in ‘man with backpack’, ‘white Ford utility’ or ‘person on bike’, and it brings up all instances.

In each instance Verifyfaces gives a notification showing the gallery image and the percentage match to the person identified.

In terms of operation and Mohommed said, “the system is very easy to use. Within 30 minutes of being on the system I was quite proficient with it.”

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