July 8, 2013

Miami-Dade Plans Facial Recognition to Search for Sex Offenders in Parks

Again we see some politician seeking recognition with a useless system and wasting taxpayer money. No reported crimes of this type, and sex offenders live with and next to children in the community, but they cannot come near a place where children may congregate. Absurd waste by elected officials.
7-8-2013 Florida:

Miami-Dade County is planning to test facial recognition technology to alert police when registered sex offenders enter public parks, its CIO says.

The surveillance project will start in the next two months with a single park in Miami-Dade, Florida, where authorities will test the ability of the analytics software to make matches between those who pass cameras and its photo bank of registered sex offenders, said the Miami-Dade County CIO, Angel Petisco. Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from approaching a range of public spaces, like churches and parks, where children are likely to be present. “If there is a match, an alert goes to the police department to find out why the [sex offenders] are close to children when they are not supposed to be,” Mr. Petisco said. “We are just trying to find a way to make the parks safe for our community and safe for our children.”

If the system works well in the test park, Mr. Petisco says his office is likely to expand the project across the larger dozen or so regional locations by the end of the year. The county has not yet determined which park will be used for the test. Mr. Petisco says the project will use facial recognition tools from International Business Machines Corp. , with which the county is already partnering for a range of law enforcement and public utility initiatives.

Mr. Petisco is also looking into whether this image recognition technology can be put to other uses, like monitoring of license plates, which would alert police when cameras capture a vehicle sought by authorities.

Privacy advocates have voiced concerns that facial recognition software allows authorities to arbitrarily track the movement of citizens who are not suspected of committing crimes. But while the county’s system will scan the faces of anyone who enters the park locations, Mr. Petisco says the tools will only retain the images of sex offenders. “At this point, we are not interested in storing information unless there’s a hit,“ Mr. Petisco said. “We picked a venue where there shouldn’t be an expectation of privacy.”

Facial recognition remains an imperfect tool. The software can be tripped up by poor lighting, or by partial images often captured by public surveillance video. Still, Mr. Petisco says that some ability to alert police to the presence of sex offenders is better than none. “Let’s say there is a 20% miss factor,“ Mr. Petisco said. “That leaves an 80% hit ratio, and that’s far better than what we have now.” ..Source.. by Joel Schectman

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