Police department implements facial recognition app

'Officers will be able to access instant, actionable data,' official says

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Amid a trial regarding a challenge to a police facial recognition app, a department in South Wales is putting the technology in use this month.

According to the BBC, the facial recognition technology maps faces in a crowd by measuring the distance between facial features, then compares results with images on a “watch list.”

A legal challenge came after a man’s picture was taken by officers while he was out shopping.

Though there is still no ruling by a judge on the legal challenge, the app is already being put to work.

The technology was provided by a Japanese firm, but the interface was designed in-house by the police force, the BBC reported.

In short, here’s how it works:

1. Faces that are already in existence in police photos are mapped by software.

2. Cameras scan faces in crowds at events.

3. Officers are flagged if faces are compared with possible matches.

4. Photos of false matches can be kept in the app for weeks.

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis said the technology would only be used when it is necessary.

"This new app means that, with a single photo, officers can easily and quickly answer the question of: ‘Are you really the person we are looking for?’” Lewis said. "Officers will be able to access instant, actionable data, allowing them to identify whether the person stopped is, or is not, the person they need to speak to, without having to return to a police station."

Some who are in opposition to the use of the technology have called the South Wales police “shameful” for using it while it remains challenged in court.

“This technology is intrusive, unnecessary and has no place on our streets,” one resident told the BBC. “Far less intrusive means have been used for decades.”

Alun Michael, the police and crime commissioner, said along with keeping the public safe, he is committed to protecting human rights.

Police said the app will be made available to 50 of its officers.

What do you think about facial recognition technology being used by law enforcement? Is it a good or a bad idea? We want to hear what you think in the comment section below.

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