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DHS records video footage at junior hockey game for facial recognition tests


According to the Department of Homeland Security, video footage that was successfully taken at a junior hockey game last weekend will be used to evaluate several off-the-shelf facial recognition technologies.

Last week, BiometricUpdate.com reported that with assistance from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, DHS conducted facial recognition tests at a Western Hockey League game in Washington state.

Based on reporting from RT and Computerworld, BiometricUpdate.com reported that the test allegedly was of the DHS’s Biometric Optical Surveillance System, otherwise referred to as BOSS. BOSS is a system designed to take video images on site and identify those images against a biometric database.

According to recent reporting in FCW however, DHS notes that the video footage recorded at the hockey game was actually obtained with non specialized equipment and that the footage would be used to evaluate several facial recognition technologies.

John Verrico, a spokesperson at the DHS Science & Technology Directorate told FCW that video was taken with standard video cameras, not specialized equipment.

The department notes that using standard cameras would provide a more typical measure to determine the effectiveness of normal facial recognition systems.

The test was designed to distinguish the faces of 20 volunteers out of a crowd of nearly 6,000 hockey fans, to determine how successfully different facial recognition systems could locate a person of interest.

Spectators at the home opener game for the Tri-Cities Americans were informed in advanced of the DHS test and were given the opportunity to not to be recorded. The venue, the Toyota Center in Kennewick, WA has been used to evaluate facial recognition systems in the past.

Technically, such a test could benefit law enforcement agencies by evaluating facial recognition technologies that can be leveraged during emergency incidents, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.

While such technologies have benefits for such incidents, as reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, the use of such technogies also can culminate in public concern over privacy.

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