Israeli security technology is now protecting the elderly residents of Birmingham’s 50-unit Faush Metropolitan Manor retirement home, the second residential location in the US and the first in the Southeast to deploy the SafeRise facial recognition security system developed by Tel Aviv-based FST21 and installed by Birmingham-based security company Ion 247 which also monitors the system. The two companies have teamed up to expand the technology throughout the Southeast.
SafeRise fuses three different technologies — facial recognition, voice recognition and behavior pattern identification — in a system that is close to being fully secure, since facial recognition system, alone, has been criticized as inaccurate or easy to defeat. While the systems can cost up to $60,000, they represent the kind of security technology that many observers have predicted would become a reality someday.
“We have to find a new intelligent, convenient way to access buildings, and the fusion of technologies gives you very close to 99% positive identification. When we put all three technologies together, we turn your body into a key to access buildings. It’s very, very difficult to imitate this key,” said Aharon Zeevi Farkash, founder of FST21 who is a retired major general after spending 40 years in the Israeli Defense Forces, including time spent leading the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the prestigious Israel SIGINT National Unit (8200).
Ion 247 tested the system in its offices for three months before marketing SafeRise to others and installing it at Faush Metropolitan Manor. Ed Welden, president of Ion 247, believes the technology is a natural extension of the interactive video security his firm already provides to commercial, multifamily and government customers, including the city of Birmingham. Because Ion 247 is the first to deploy the system in the region, he thinks Birmingham is in a good position as its use grows, and said his firm is preparing to install the SafeRise system at facilities in Mobile, St. Petersburg and Houston. “We want Birmingham to be the hub of the new technology,” Welden added.
According to Judy Ellsberry, community manager at Faush Metropolitan Manor, it took residents a little while to get used to the new system, but after just a few weeks, they have embraced it. With elderly residents — many of whom use walkers or wheelchairs or may have bags of groceries after shopping — having to simply look at a camera to gain nearly instant access is like magic. More than anything, it’s convenient and it’s safe, and there is no more fumbling for your keys,” she said.
Beyond retirement homes and villages and apartment and condo communities, Welden sees applications for the technology in office buildings, government offices, airports, schools, health care facilities, banks and prisons. Homes are also likely in the future as the technology becomes more affordable, but commercial and multifamily properties often realize a savings by lowering traditional security guard costs.