April 18th, 2003
Grampian Police are about to introduce a biometric facial recognition system. At first I was quite encouraged – not that I think the use of facial recognition software is a great idea, but at least they were only planning to deploy the system in custody suites, where there's at least some prospect of controlling the lighting and camera position so as to produce decent results.
Then I read on:
In the future, Grampian hopes to link the system to process CCTV footage. During major police inquiries many police hours can be spent going through CCTV tapes and its hoped the system with save a great deal of time. With the introduction of digital CCTV, facial recognition will become more reliable.
Facial recognition in crowd settings, used in conjunction with analogue systems, is far from perfect.
Chief Inspector Ashcroft conceded this point but said that the Imagis system was around 70 per cent reliable in crowd situations, far better than the 50 per cent or less reliability attached to earlier systems.
Oh good, so they've got it down to a 30% error rate. Nothing for anyone walking down the street in Aberdeen to worry about, then.