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Police body cams to add facial recognition capabilities in the future


Axon, a business unit of Taser International, said it expects to roll out body cam models with facial recognition capabilities in the future, according to a report by Popular Science.

The disturbing frequency of police killing — such as the July 6 death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota — has led police forces across the country to outfit officers with body cameras as a preventative measure aimed at curbing abuse of power and legal action.

Taser said it plans to roll out live-streaming capabilities and cloud storage services in 2017, and eventually integrate facial recognition capabilities so agencies can query police records or social networks in real time.

“If we think about that situation in Minnesota, maybe that officer did have some preconceptions [about Castile], and maybe they were unhelpful preconceptions,” said Taser CEO Rick Smith. “The more we can help reduce that uncertainty, the better”.

The body cams are designed to be used with Evidence.com, the Axon-branded, subscription-based software and cloud services for managing all the footage captured on the devices.

To date, there has been approximately 4.6 petabytes of video uploaded to the platform — a storage amount equal to Netflix’s entire streaming catalog.

It remains to be seen how body cameras will change policing, but early studies show that officers who are outfitted with the devices tend to use force less frequently and receive fewer complaints from the public.

In addition, the footage captured by body cams may also boost conviction rates and guilty pleas in prosecuting crimes.

In May, a coalition of over 30 privacy and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, released a list of recommended regulations for the use of police body cameras in the U.S.

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