Facial Recognition: How Policy Can Catch Up to the Technology

Facial recognition (FR) stands at a critical point in its development.

The technology is racing forward and improving rapidly. Adoption of FR tools as a law enforcement asset is growing. It’s now commonly accessible by police agencies nationwide.

And beyond its original applications in the military, counter-terrorism and law enforcement, the technology is improving other sectors, such as aviation and travel, hospitality, healthcare, financial services and retail.

Yet public understanding of FR lags behind. And, driven by incorrect popular perceptions, public policies that would ban or over-regulate FR’s use seem ill-informed and out of step with present realities.

This poses a challenge to those of us committed to the success and propagation of FR: How can we ensure that public perception — and policymakers’ perception — of FR is better aligned with the technology’s value to society, and, specifically, to law enforcement?

Recently I had the privilege of moderating a blue-ribbon panel of FR leaders who assembled to tackle this precise question.

The panel convened for the 33rd Annual International Biometrics Association User Conference — formerly known as the AFIS Internet User Conference – in Scottsdale AZ.

“We’ve got to get better at helping policymakers understand the value and positive outcomes of this technology,” said Ashwini Jarral, executive director of the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, setting the tone for the discussion. “That way, we can go and fix these policies and laws.”

It was heartening to see our panelists rapidly establish a consensus around at least three themes:

Theme #1: Educate policymakers and the public on two key points: Propelled by misapprehensions, some municipalities have banned FR in law enforcement. Leveraging public education as a basic push-back strategy, the panel recommended two areas of focus:

First, the public isn’t distinguishing between FR as an investigative tool and as a surveillance tool. People need to understand that FR doesn’t mean constant video surveillance. It’s not “Big Brother,” rather it’s used for investigatory leads.

“Investigation and surveillance are two different things completely,” said Lt. Derek Sabatini of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “Detroit and Chicago, for example, have large surveillance systems, but these systems don’t include live facial recognition. Facial recognition tools are only used for investigative purposes.”

Secondly, the public seems unaware of procedural safeguards already in place to regulate the use of FR.

“This is not the ‘Wild West,’” said Lt. Sabatini. “There are governance systems that mandate that you must have a right to know and a need to know before you can access that data. There are criminal penalties if you misuse that data.”

“People mistakenly think that sweeping and universally accessible databases are being freely shared between states and the federal government,” said Tovah LaDier, executive director of the International Biometrics + Identity Association. “In fact, states must give individual permission for the federal agencies to permit access.”

Existing federal legislation provides that states may enter into agreements with the FBI to provide state-level department of motor vehicle (DMV) database access, only for the specific purpose of assisting the FBI in fulfilling its law enforcement responsibilities.

Theme #2: Publicize FR’s positive track record: Popular fears of FR overreach are disproven by the technology’s excellent performance in law enforcement.

Lt. Sabatini told the conference that Los Angeles County has been using FR as an investigative resource since 2009, and deployed it in 11,000 cases last year alone. Yet the County has never faced a civil liberties court challenge charging abuse. He said that the New York Police Department had leveraged FR for 7,000 investigations last year, which had helped generate some 1,000 “legitimate arrests.”

Faith Contreras, the Facial Recognition Program Administrator for the Arizona Department of Transportation, pointed to successes in child trafficking and child smuggling. She said it’s also been used to investigate a range of cold cases and to identify unknown deceased individuals.
 
Theme #3: Embed governance capabilities within the technology: Panelists concurred that when it comes to protections relating to such matters as privacy and consent, the desired policy objectives have to actually be built into the technology.

“You can write policies all day long,” said Mr. Jarral. “But if you can’t demonstrate that your policies are actually embedded within the technology, you’re going to lose this battle.”


At the panel’s closing, Ms. LaDier affirmed her association’s commitment to the “transparent and secure use” of FR and related technologies. She also announced the forthcoming launch of a “responsibleid.org” site that would serve as an educational platform and a repository of “good news” about FR.

“Any technology can be used properly, and it can be abused,” she said. “Considering facial recognition’s enormous benefits, we cannot ban the technology. We have to do the hard work to regulate it so that it is used properly.”

NEC’s Improved Livescan Strengthens State and Local Law Enforcement

With threats on the rise and criminals growing more sophisticated by the day, citizens trust law enforcement agencies to stay one-step ahead.

For law enforcement, processing arrests involves the entry of bio-demographic information, taking fingerprints and possibly mug shots of the suspect. The data is then sent to state and federal authorities to determine if there are existing arrest records, verify that the suspect has not provided false information and to determine if there are any outstanding warrants. Historically, fingerprints were taken with ink and then scanned, and often returned due to lack of detail or inaccurate scans. In some cases, AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) or other database hits could take days to return a search result to the arresting agency.

The key to keeping communities safe is accuracy, reliability and speed with solutions that help you protect the public when it counts.

With modern livescan technology, law enforcement now has the option of using a device that electronically captures images, fingerprints, palm prints, mugshots, scars, marks and tattoos, as well as irises, signatures, voice and even possibly DNA. AFIS or MBIS (Multi-modal Biometric Identification Systems) and even the livescan station itself have the ability to provide an agency with nearly instantaneous results and feedback on a suspect. This technology allows state and local agencies faster access to precise, accurate matches to help solve more crimes, detain repeat offenders and keep their communities safer to live, work and play.

At NEC, we’re proud to offer award-winning biometrics solutions, such as our SmartScan™, to help take state and local law enforcement to the next level.

Easy to Use

NEC’s SmartScan offers a modern, user-friendly interface with the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system. Touch screens, with swipe and pinch-and-zoom functionality, are as familiar to operators as using their mobile devices. This modern, intuitive interface guides the operator through the record creation process minimizing errors and increasing efficiency.

The user is guided through the record creation workflow on an innovative, ergonomically designed and height-adjustable “UnCabinet.” The UnCabinet includes large 22” displays, prominent foot pedals to make capturing images hands-free, and a flexible configuration based on the needs and price point of a department, agency or organization.

SmartScan™ The biometric industry’s most advanced multimodal capture solution - Learn More

Security and Maintenance

With so much personal data captured, our livescan system must be secure from malware, hacking and unauthorized access. Multifactor authentication and virtualization-based security is available to protect credentials, roles and system privileges.

Our SmartScan includes centralized management for local and remote control plus a convenient chat function for system administrators to manage the system and remotely assist operators during the record creation process. NEC Customer Service Centers also provide 24/7 support and remote diagnostics to help technical support resolve issues immediately.

Multi-Modal Biometrics Capture

The livescan system is only as helpful as the biometric scans it can capture. NEC’s SmartScan produces superior quality images from a variety of biometric captures using top-tiered hardware and validate using both NEC superior and standard NIST image quality checks.

Depending on the needs of a department or agency, our solution offers support for many different peripherals and modes of capture:

  • Articulating Arm and IrisID R100 and CMI Tech EF-45 devices for Iris Capture
  • Voice Capture and Audio-Visual Chatting via the Logitech® Brio 4K HD Webcam
  • Improved Mugshot and SMT (scars, marks and tattoos) Capture per Evolving NIST Best Practice Recommendations and Additional Camera Devices from Canon, CMI Tech, IrisID and Logitech
  • Comprehensive Friction Ridge Capture including all Fingerprints and Palmprints using either Crossmatch and Green Bit devices as well as Integrated Biometrics and JENETRIC
  • Supplemental signature capture, barcode and magstripe reading of IDs, driver’s licenses and smartcards are also available as an optional feature from a variety of devices

NEC’s SmartScan solution is truly livescan made smart!

Certifications and New Use Cases

Since NEC SmartScan introduction in 2016, many major features have been incorporated, such as advanced multi-modal biometrics capture, as well as the documentation of new civil use cases. Our Advanced Recognition Systems (ARS) team recently accepted an order of 100+ SmartScan Stations for implementation by a federal agency.

While NEC ARS solutions are available around the world, in the U.S. our livescan system is currently certified in Alabama, California, Georgia, Nevada and Texas. More state certifications are coming – check with your NEC ARS Account Manager for the latest list and availability. An emerging NEC SmartScan “UnKiosk” and alternative software for driver’s license applications and renewals is also available, as well as Identity Management Self-Enrollment.

NEC SmartScan also offers:

  • Pre-booking options for Field and Remote operations, including a new remote booking application
  • FBI Certification for Crossmatch® LScan and Green Bit DactyScan capture devices
  • Printing of hard copy cards and reports
  • USB ports for additional plug-in peripherals
  • Industry standard hardware for a cost-effective solution
  • Full standards compliance and design for ANSI/NIST formatted records and FBI EBTS specifications, XML IEPD and NIEM
  • Integration with AFIS, MBIS, CCH and RMS systems

Return on Investment

NEC’s SmartScan offers an almost immediate return on investment. Your livescan operators will have streamlined processes so they can efficiently scan more applicants and suspects in far less time, and with fewer rejected scans. NEC’s ARS solutions are NIST validated, adaptable, secure, and continually improving in order to help increase productivity and exceed the goals and objectives of law enforcement and other civic agencies.

In addition, if there are budget concerns, NEC has the ability to assist; NEC Financial Services offers creative financing and leasing options to support system upgrades.

To learn more about the NEC SmartScan, you can explore here, and find out more about NEC’s biometric solutions by visiting necam.com/ARS.

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How Criminal Investigations Can Be Expedited Using Facial Recognition

Across the nation, Law Enforcement Organizations (LEOs) are inundated every day with photographic and video evidence in their Criminal Investigation Divisions (CID). Numerous agencies have shared with me that in more than 30% of their CID cases the ONLY evidence they have is a photo or video of an unknown suspect, received from a variety of sources, including surveillance cameras, RING doorbells, and smartphones. Typically, law enforcement resorts to sharing these images via social media, in hopes that someone will recognize the individual. Hoping for a random identification is not the most solid investigation strategy, but there is now a way those same images can become viable leads for Investigators to pursue, to catch the offenders and get them off the streets.

NEC’s NeoFace® WideNet is designed to assist law enforcement agencies by turning their mugshot repositories interfaced with our NIST award winning Facial Recognition solution into Facial Recognition as a Service for Law Enforcement. For the first time, multiple agencies will be able to share their mugshots with each other, AND utilize NEC’s powerful NeoFace Facial Recognition–the industry’s fastest and most accurate face matching algorithm. A key benefit to the criminal case investigation is the advantage of quick processing of facial evidence coupled with its ability to rapidly generate a list of persons of interest. Speedy identification means NEC’s NeoFace WideNet-hosted service saves valuable time in the investigations of cases containing facial video evidence, thus reducing the investigator’s caseload.

Designed to be highly scalable as well as affordable, NeoFace WideNet is for small, medium, and the largest of law enforcement agencies. Because this service changes the model for this purchase from CAPEX to OPEX, this lowers acquisition costs and is enabling agencies of all sizes to utilize the technology.
NeoFace WideNet customers see an immediate return on investment with the reduction of investigation time and reduced investigator workloads. But most importantly, this crime fighting solution helps turn those previously unusable images into hard evidence to solve crimes and help close cases.

Now agencies will be able to share their mugshots with each other, utilizing the powerful NeoFace #FacialRecognition #software--the industry’s fastest and most accurate face matching algorithm Click To Tweet

Just as AFIS revolutionized fingerprint evidence over 30 years ago, NeoFace WideNet is poised to positively impact law enforcement by effectively doing the same thing with photo and video evidence.
If your organization is interested in solving more crimes and arming your investigators with the tools to be more efficient, check this out.

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Irving Police Department (IPD)

Learn how City of Irving Police department worked with NEC to increase success rates in suspect identification using facial recognition.

 
 
 
 
 



As Seen on TV: NEC Provides Powerful Crime Solving Face Recognition Software to Law Enforcement

If you’re a fan of any of the detective shows available on television and streaming services, you’ve probably seen an episode or two where a crucial part of solving the fictional crime is using face-recognition software to identify potential suspects. It’s the digital version of an old-fashioned police lineup. The scenario usually involves detectives finding an old photo or obtaining some grainy security camera footage of a suspect. They turn it over to a colleague in a crime lab, where the photograph or video is quickly processed to identify the subject.

While it may not work exactly as seen in the movies or on a television crime drama, this type of digital matching technology is very real and in use today. With more people having camera equipped cell phones and individuals and business installing surveillance cameras, the amount of available video evidence that can be used to solve crimes has greatly increased. Not having the ability to leverage security video footage and photo evidence can be costly and time consuming for law enforcement departments with limited resources and heavy case loads.

NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems (ARS) group has a long history of providing the latest biometrics technology to government customers like our NeoFace® Reveal software, NEC’s high-speed matching facial recognition system. When it was independently evaluated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NEC’s NeoFace® algorithm achieved the highest performance evaluation as the most accurate face recognition solution on the market for “one-to-many” video searching.

Watch the video to see how NEC’s ARS group worked with the City of Irving Police Department on a deployment of NEC’s NeoFace® Reveal facial recognition software, which has resulted in high success rates in providing fast, accurate suspect identification intelligence. It has led to increased public safety and decreases in departmental costs by saving detective man hours and reducing the need for added personnel.

Want to learn more about Advanced Recognition Solutions from NEC? Let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Eight Key Insights from AFIS 2017

Our annual AFIS Internet User Conference leads the way for law enforcement forensic professionals. This year’s highly anticipated event in Sacramento brought together professionals from around the globe, to share information and learn from the best of the best. This is as much a learning event for NEC as it is for our AFIS User Group. Together we explored issues affecting the law enforcement community today. Attendees learned more about new techniques in forensics, and experienced the latest in identification technology solutions, and glimpsed into the future of biometrics, innovations designed to make our lives easier and to meet the expanding security needs of our changing world.

I’d like to express my deep gratitude to the AFIS Internet Board, the organizers of this conference, and for the special efforts and leadership of the Sacramento Division of the California Department of Justice, our host agency.

It was difficult to choose, but here are my top eight insights from the many outstanding moments at AFIS Internet 2017:

  1. Pass it On The 3-day event was perfectly kicked off by keynote speaker, Jim Hyde, Co-Founder of Peer Support Central, as he brought timely insights into the need for our mentoring of the next generation of pros, and the importance of critical knowledge transfer to the new breed of law enforcement, the Millennial generation. Jim concluded with a moving personal experience of a First Responder being shot in the line of duty–when a seasoned police dispatcher knew to stay on the line, reach out, and to comfort and encourage him until help arrived. That “going above and beyond” the task at hand can make all the difference in the outcome; what a critical wisdom nugget to pass on to the next generation!
  1. Be Informed Marty Parker, FBI Agent, pulled back the curtain to reveal the real deal about child sex trafficking. Her informative session was riveting and heart breaking as she emphasized the power of a truly caring hug for these extremely tough kids, how critical it is to free them emotionally by convicting their captors, and the value of identification of juvenile prostitutes on the street, in hotels and casinos, and on internet locations.
  1. Share in Successes Actual NeoFace® Reveal use-case success stories were shared by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Visuals were shown of how facial recognition as a time-saving identification tool was used to help ID and facilitate the capture and conviction of a slippery career criminal who had long specialized in multiple identity thefts, forgery and mail fraud.
  1. Learn About Enhanced Security An update from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs Border Protection (CBP) on the use of biometrics at exit point operations helped us gain a clearer picture of security measures currently in place at our nation’s borders. With NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems and biometrics improvements for border security at strategic international airports, ports and border crossings, highly trafficked points of entry/ exit, it’s clear that facial recognition ID is our best “touch-less” safeguard, and also possible that our face will actually be our boarding pass in the future!

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  1. Get Professional Work Tips With multiple industry-specific sessions aimed directly at providing training for the forensics professional, there was a wide range of insider tips. For example: how to sharpen your courtroom testimony skills, best practice crime scene fingerprinting (on the living and deceased), how to best deal with applying for and managing federal grants, the use and importance of Mobile ID devices (for immediate on-scene fingerprint capture and ID—before the suspect disappears), as well as some expert Ten-Print help with creating and implementing the “Henry” classification formula. We even learned efficiency suggestions for supervisors of telecommuting teams of Latent Print Examiners.
  1. Look Into the Future NEC brought compelling Advanced Recognition System (ARS) presentations, international updates, and exciting views into the current and future place of biometrics in the arena of public safety and as part of our daily lives; simplifying our access, giving us ease of movement, protecting and serving those who protect and serve.
  1. Experience Cutting Edge Technology NEC showcased its latest identification technologies, including interactive, expertly guided 10-print workshops with hands-on experience with NEC’s Integra-ID iBW, the latest in fingerprint technology processing. NEC’s demo exhibits on NeoFace® Watch and NeoFace® Express showed how touch-free identification can actually help simplify public safety work, as well as increase location access security. The NeoFace® Reveal and SmartScan interface exhibits gave an up-close and personal encounter for many AFIS Internet members as they transition to facial recognition disciplines in addition to fingerprint and ten print identification work.
  1. Meet Others Like You One of the joys of an event like the AFIS Internet User Conference is the rare opportunity to socialize, network, and brainstorm with others who understand the intricacies of your unique universe; this means experts from technology innovators like NEC, together with a diverse gathering of like-minded crime-fighting professionals who daily face the same issues and challenges you do. Clearly the casually fun evenings were planned with that fraternity in mind!

The closing AFIS 2017 Awards Banquet was the crowning jewel. This was a time to recognize the newly elected AFIS Internet, Inc. Executive Board–made up entirely of working industry professionals, and to honor recipients of the AFIS Internet 2017 “Biometric Hit of the Year Award”: Faith Contreras (Facial Recognition Program Administrator and Law Enforcement Coordination Unit Supervisor for the Office of the Inspector General) together with Detective Keith Richerson of Arizona Department of Transportation were awarded for Facial Recognition use on an Identity theft/ forgery/ fraud case, and Sgt. Amanda Crooker of the Michigan State Police was honored for impressive (Latent/ Palm /Finger) Print hit success on a cold homicide case.

Congratulations to all, with our sincere gratitude for your service!

This year’s AFIS Internet Group Board did a fantastic job of bringing together relevant and important topics, with a roster of respected international experts who engaged and educated, but also inspired us.

If you missed AFIS 2017, we hope you’ll put it into your calendar now, to join us next August 26-29, 2018, in Reston, Virginia. Of course, meanwhile, you can check out or relive the excitement by viewing our photo gallery, or our AFIS 2017 Recap Video below.

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The Power of Identity

Facial recognition technology has matured rapidly and provides game-changing solutions to today’s identification challenges. To learn more, fill out the form to download the white paper.