The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recently announced they have adopted a massive biometric system in an effort to fight crime.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has made public a partnership with NEC Corporation of America (NEC) which will allow the department to utilize NEC’s award-winning facial recognition program. According to a press release, the Sheriff’s Department originally made the switch on January 7, but the announcement has only now been made public. The arrangement grants the Sheriff’s Department access to NEC’s Integra ID 5 Multimodal Identification Biometric Solution (MBIS). The MBIS will be managed by the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System (LACRIS) Unit.
The new system will handle criminal identification needs for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, and 45 additional police departments in L.A. County.
According to the press release,
LACRIS integrates 164 remote LiveScan systems and 76 digital latent workstations into MBIS. LACRIS’ use of NEC’s Integra ID 5 MBIS is one of the largest criminal biometric identification implementations in the world, interfacing to numerous state and federal databases, including California Department of Justice and the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system.
NEC’s system supports fingerprint, palm print, face and iris biometrics. In addition, their “Services Oriented Architecture (SOA)” is apparently capable of gathering data on an individual’s voice pattern. The press release touts the success of the Integra ID 5 MBIS, claiming that the NEC system has uncovered 107 hits related to unsolved cases. These cases could potentially be solved thanks to NEC’s cutting-edge facial recognition software, the company writes.
The topic of facial recognition technology has increasingly been in the news (unless you are watching television). In early February Activist Post reported on news that the Trump administration is preparing to install a biometric wall along the southern and northern borders of the United States where all people entering and exiting the country will have their faces scanned. Most recently it was revealed that facial recognition tech has been used at Madison Square Garden during sports events. In that article Allen Ganz, a director of critical infrastructure at NEC, told The New York Times that his company’s system could “estimate anonymously the age and gender of people coming into the stadium.” Ganz declined to tell the Times which arenas are currently using NEC’s technology.
Another interesting aspect of this story deals with the headquarters of NEC. The corporation is based in Irving, Texas, near Dallas and Fort Worth. Apparently NEC has also convinced the Irving Police Department to test out their facial recognition technology, specifically a program known as NeoFace Reveal. According to NEC’s website, “NeoFace Reveal software delivers reliable face recognition by capturing, enhancing, organizing and matching video and graphic images to specific individuals, including images of poor resolution and with partial positioning.” The program has been named the most accurate facial recognition program on the market by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The program specializes in taking “poor quality and highly compressed surveillance videos and images” that were previously thought unusable and making them functional for an investigation. Sgt. Jason Mullins, a supervisor with the Irving Police Department’s Crime Information Center, even bragged that the program “was still able to make a match” despite images appearing blurry or pixelated.
The FBI is currently facing lawsuits that are attempting to force transparency regarding their Next Generation Identification System which contains the faces of almost half of all Americans. Will NEC and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department also fight against transparency when it comes to their new facial recognition toy?