Vornado will install facial recognition tech in all its buildings

Buildings that had face-reading tech pre-2020 saw 40% opt-in rate from tenants

Vornado CEO Steven Roth and a rendering of the Farley Post Office building (Getty, iStock, SOM)
Vornado CEO Steven Roth and a rendering of the Farley Post Office building (Getty, iStock, SOM)

After testing facial recognition technology on users for years, Facebook will soon have to decide whether to opt in or out of facial recognition for its own employees in New York.

Vornado Realty Trust, which has operated face-reading systems at a handful of properties for the past five years, now plans to expand the technology across its entire portfolio, Business Insider reported. That will include Facebook’s future 730,000-square-foot space at the Farley Building, as well its current offices at 770 Broadway.

The technology, which will allow office workers to quickly enter buildings with minimal physical contact, could become more important for office buildings in a post-coronavirus world.

“We are constantly looking to adopt new, cutting-edge technologies that will make our buildings more efficient and life more convenient for our tenants,” Vornado vice chairman David Greenbaum told the publication. He first began discussing the technology with CEO Steve Roth six years ago, after noticing some tenants had to carry two entry cards for both the building and their own company’s space.

Read more

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The landlord first installed the technology at five properties, one of which was later sold. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, the firm has installed facial recognition tech at seven more properties.

The company has not laid out a timeline for full deployment of the systems, but plans to install the technology at One and Two Penn Plaza in the near future. The system is already in operation at 1290 Sixth Avenue and 340 West 34th Street.

The use of facial recognition technology has been the subject of much controversy due to privacy concerns, although proponents insist there are ethical ways to use the technology, by giving participants the option to opt out and by storing the data securely — measures which Vornado has adopted.

At the four Vornado properties that had face-reading cameras installed before this year, about 40 percent of tenants opted in, representing about 6,000 of the 15,000 office employees at those buildings. Data is not yet available for the other seven buildings because most tenants have yet to return to the office.

“Virtually everyone who has used the technology has liked it,” Greenbaum said. “I never had a preconceived notion of what the adoption rate would be, but as our tenants see others using it, they are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology.” [BI] — Kevin Sun