South Australia Police (SAPOL) will soon be using facial recognition technology to catch criminals “quickly and expeditiously” following the award of a $780,000 contract to NEC.
NEC’s NeoFace facial recognition software uses algorithms to match still shots and CCTV footage of suspects against mugshot databases and watch lists.
“Say we have a stolen vehicle that drives through a fast food outlet,” explained Superintendent Scott Allison of SAPOL. “Typically those fast food outlets have CCTV vision through them. We can capture that CCTV vision, provide still shots, or run small snippets of that CCTV, and use that through the NEC facial recognition technology to try and get a match.”
The technology has high tolerance of poor quality images and surveillance video, allowing authorities to use evidence previously considered of little or no value and achieve better rates of identification.
It is currently being used by Northern Territory Police, following a trial last year. The force reported it had identified and detained hundreds of wanted criminals thanks to the technology.
"They’ve had extraordinarily results from CCTV images that they’ve captured,” said Allison of the trials, “through to enhanced investigations, even historical investigations, they’ve got very good results.”
He added that the technology would be 'widely utilised' by the force by the end of October.
SA Minister for Police, Peter Malinauskas, said the investment was symbolic of his government’s commitment to making SAPOL “one of the most modern, well equipped, technologically advanced police forces in the nation”.
“The nature of policing is constantly changing,” he said. “The sort of challenges that face the South Australian police force, as is the case with every police force around the country, are becoming incredibly more complex, are constantly evolving and the types of crime that are being committed in the community require our police force to be ever vigilant.
“So it’s important that governments make sure they are resourcing police forces to the extent that we’re giving them all the tools they could possibly have in order to keep our community safe.”
The facial recognition technology was also tipped to enhance South Australia’s existing CCTV network by extracting faces in real time and instantaneously matching them against a watch list of individuals or missing persons databases. However, Malinauskas ruled out using the capability at present.
“Right now there isn’t any intention or plan to have it accessing real time CCTV footage,” he said, “although that capability does exist into the future.”
Chief Operating Officer of NEC, Mike Barber added the technology would: “greatly assist in reducing the time officers spend on identity management activities and allows them to be back on the streets keeping the public safe."
In May, NEC was awarded a five-year national contract to deliver biometric services including facial recognition and fingerprint matching by Federal Government agency, CrimTrac. In June the company announced a $4.38 million investment to build a cyber security centre in Adelaide.
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