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When Convenience Meets Surveillance: AI at the Corner Store

Jacksons Food Store customer Denise Diharce was surprised to learn that the Tacoma location she frequents for odds and ends is testing a high-tech system that, prior to entry, will compare her to images of previous crime suspects.

Before patrons can enter the basic convenience store at the corner of South 38th Street and Pacific Avenue, a camera under a red awning will take a picture and use artificial intelligence (AI) to decide whether the image matches any in a database of known robbers and shoplifters at that location.

“That’s a privacy violation because you should be notified about it,” Diharce said on a recent morning. “They should have a sign to notify you that they’re comparing it to photos of criminals.”

- Digital Partner -

Jacksons spokesperson Russ Stoddard said that when fully functional, the system will operate from 8pm-6am. It’s now deactivated after a recent test, but when it’s turned back on, a sign at the front of the store will notify customers that facial recognition technology is in use, and a speaker will ask customers to look at the camera. The door won’t unlock if someone is wearing a mask or if the person has been previously flagged for criminal activity by in-store camera footage… The Star

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