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UK police begin trialling the world's fastest face recognition tech

Matt Brian, @m4tt
07.16.14
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With more than six million CCTV cameras in operation, Britain is the most watched country in the world. London's police officers are trialling body-worn cameras to help bring about "speedier justice," but only now are other forces beginning to find efficient ways to process that surveillance. Leicestershire Police today confirmed it has become the first force in the UK to test NEC's NeoFace face recognition software, which it hopes will "transform the way criminals are tracked down." NeoFace's strengths lie in analysing "dozens" of facial features from digital images captured by CCTV or police body cameras and matching them with the 90,000 photos stored on Leicestershire Police's database.

Because processing only takes a matter of seconds (NeoFace ranks number one in independent face matching speed and accuracy tests), it stands to eliminate the need for officers to manually search for possible matches, which can take hours. Although the face recognition tech is only now making its UK debut, it has already proved invaluable in the US. Just last month, the Chicago Police Department used the system to sort through 4.5 million booking photos to help convict a suspected armed robber. Unfortunately, Leicestershire Police can't submit NeoFace's findings as evidence in court -- instead it'll serve as a useful tool to detect possible suspects (and also their family members) and develop new lines of enquiry.

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