Home Office plans to invest $6.4m to provide police with facial recognition technology

The Home Office is planning to invest £5 million (US$6.4 million) on facial-recognition software to be initially used by law enforcement and eventually other public sector organizations, according to a report by Public Technology.

The department has posted a contract notice looking for interested technology suppliers for a five-year term to provide biometric matcher engine software (MES) that can identify people via facial imagery.

In addition to the technology itself, the supplier or suppliers will need to provide a range of related services, including design, accuracy testing, systems integration, data migration, and ongoing support.

The deadline for potential suppliers to submit their bids is September 25. Three weeks later, the department will then invite five firms to tender in which they will subject bidders’ technology to accuracy testing. The tendering process is expected to last a minimum of seven months.

After the initial five-year term, the Home Office will have the option to extend the contract for an additional two years, followed by a further one-year extension.

As a result, the project — which has an estimated value of £4.6m (US$5.9 million), plus VAT — could last up to eight years.

The project is part of a wider biometrics program being run by the Home Office. The new MES will be required to integrate with the department’s existing biometric matcher platform service, which hosts methods and data from various agencies across law enforcement, immigration, citizenship services, and other bodies.

In February, the UK home secretary ordered UK police agencies to delete on request millions of images of innocent people illegally stored on a national police database.

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