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Face-recognition tool to curb crime

G. Anand
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Part of camera network at airports, offices

The State police will soon have the latest face-recognition technology integrated with its expanding surveillance camera network to screen entry and exit points of airports, railway stations, stadiums, and key government offices for persons with criminal or terror links. Senior police officers say the technology is likely to be implemented first at the landmark Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here and later at other locations, including vital establishments vulnerable to sabotage in Kochi and Kozhikode.

The Communications Division of the Kerala Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron) is tasked with executing the project.

The technology will enable law-enforcers to track and capture single or multiple faces of persons when they enter or exit important institutions through access-controlled channels covered from all angles with cameras.

Real-time action

Law-enforcers can compare, in real time, the faces captured by their surveillance camera clusters with police mugshots of crime suspects, wanted persons, and those categorised as “barred or unwelcome guests” stored in the digitised databases and crime information repositories of State and Central law-enforcement agencies.

The system will automatically signal an alert if the face of a person which appears on police video footage matches that of any person on the law-enforcement’s watch list.

Officers say suspects cannot, arguably, fox the system by altering posture to avoid the cameras, varying one’s facial expressions, and making beard and hair-style changes or by wearing glasses.

“Covering one’s face entirely may help evade the system. However, such actions will immediately arouse suspicion,” an officer says.

In the next phase, the police will employ more advanced versions of the technology to monitor crowded environments by matching biometric characteristics of faces with that of persons on their surveillance list. The system is no foolproof solution to security threats. It only increases the chance of identifying criminals and terrorists. The technology will be a force multiplier for police monitoring vital installations.

The ‘true alarm rate’ of such systems will increase when biometric face-recognition technology becomes more common, a senior police officer says.

State Police Chief K. S. Balasubramanian, Inspector General of Police Manoj Abraham and Keltron’s system specialist S. P. Gopakumar are among those involved in the project.


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