Do you like having your face and forehead temperature scanned wherever you go? and Are you a Pragmatic, Realistic or Sceptic?

Have the drastic changes in online work tools environments caused people to have different perceptions about the use of video-enriched thermal scanners, video-enhanced biometric and surveillance equipment?

In Singapore, where there exists a strong push towards adopting digital solutions including thermal scanners, biometric facial recognition systems and AI cameras, the potential loss of privacy or increase in potentially-unnecessary surveillance could be an issue.

Here are some new findings about public reception to the use of such equipment, gleaned from a study of 300 consumers in Singapore, between ages 20 and 64, commissioned by open-platform video software firm Milestone Systems from 14 Aug to 21 Aug 2020. (Note: demographic quotas based on Department of Statistics figures were employed to ensure the sample is broadly representative of the 20 – 64 age group in Singapore).

  • Eight in 10 Singaporeans were receptive to the usage of video technology such as thermal imagining cameras and crowd management video analytics, when underpinned by a health benefit.
  • While not entirely familiar with the video technology, most respondents showed a greater inclination to visit public places employing video technology measures.
  • Three distinct segments were identified in this study: the ‘Pragmatic’ (41%) who saw video technology as beneficial; the ‘Realistic’ (32%) who accepted video technology usage in specific scenarios; and the ‘Sceptics’ (27%) whose comfort level with video technology remained low even when it was used for health and security reasons.
  • Receptivity towards video technology was not tied to age. The study showed that having knowledge of video technology benefits and data measures is more likely to determine one’s acceptance, rather than age.

Maintaining data privacy and protection

According to Milestone System’s Vice President of Asia Pacific, Benjamin Low: “(The pandemic) continues to change the way we do business, and it is important that we become innovators with these new technologies that can help us better understand our end-users. While the use of video technology for health benefits gains greater societal acceptance, we see that there is still a significant portion of the population that is unfamiliar with the purpose and benefits of such solutions. As consumers remain vigilant about how businesses are using their personal data, organizations must prioritize data protection and practice full transparency to build greater trust in video solutions.”

In this case, the study shows that when it comes to data privacy, a majority of respondents in Singapore were comfortable with video data being collected as long as personally-identifiable information (PII) was removed or masked, and the video data was deleted after the analysis.

“Being explicitly-informed about the use of video technology in a (place) and assured that no video data would be stored, would further reassure the public and increase the overall receptivity and acceptance of video technology use. Just as businesses and organizations try to adapt to new consumer attitudes around safety and health, they will also need to work together with regulatory bodies and technology partners to find ways to maintain individual privacy and comply with data protection regulations at the same time,” Low said.