Can Security Cameras Identify Faces?

Published on October 12, 2018 by Matt Garnham in Blog Posts on Security Cameras

Can Security Cameras Identify Faces?

My team often gets asked the question “can security cameras identify faces”? The short answer is that yes – with the right cameras you can identify faces with the images from security cameras. It isn’t always that easy and that straight forward however.

You might find our blog post explaining the differences between the identification, recognition and detection distances helpful when going through this blog post.

AI vs Identification Through Images

These two different methods of facial recognition could be summed up as proactive and reactive.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is proactive – a computer constantly monitors a security cam video feed and triggers an alert when it sees a person of interest.

Identification through images is reactive – when an incident occurs a person reviews the footage. When they find the footage of the incident, they find a photo of the perpetrator. They then use this image to identify the person involved.

The former is what is currently being trialed in some railway stations and large areas of public gathering. The latter is what makes up the majority of security cam systems out there.

Artificial Intelligence – Proactive

Artificial Intelligence to Identify FacesOften when people ask the question of can security cameras identify faces, they mean automatically. As in automatic facial recognition. This is Artificial Intelligence – AI.

This technology is available in some extremely high end security camera systems. This is just not something you are going to find in a home or small business security camera system.

I am well aware of some companies that claim to have this technology currently available or to be working on this technology for the home/small business market. Let’s just say I’ll believe it when I see it!

Everything AI based that I am aware of is extremely resource hungry. What this means is that it requires huge amounts of processing power. Not to mention the massively complicated software to make it happen.

This processing power is expensive. As is the software.

The answer for home security camera systems is technically ‘yes’ (given an unlimited budget). The reality, on the other hand, is that it will be far too expensive and complicated for all our customers. At this stage, and I predict for many years to come, the answer will be ‘no’!

Identification Through Images – Reactive

Identification of FacesThis is what we are trying to achieve for our customers.

If you have the zoom and focus on the security camera set to identify a person (this is where the link to my other blog post could be helpful) then you should have no problem.

When an incident occurs, the security system controller reviews the footage. They find a clear image or section of footage of the person involved. This is then handed to police for identification.

The security camera equipment that we sell here at Orange Security is designed to identify people through the images stored on the recorder. This reactive way of dealing with the problem keeps the cost of the security cam system down. It also ensures the security camera system is as easy to use as possible.


Yes – it is possible to identify faces reactively with security cameras assuming they are set up correctly. Practically, it is not possible to identify faces proactively.

If you have any questions or would like advice from my team on how to identify faces, then don’t hesitate to reach out.

about the author: Matt Garnham
Security Camera expert for many years. He is the founder and owner of Orange Security. Started life in the security industry in the UK. Relocated to Southern Florida and Orange Security was formed.

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