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Second Florida police force seeks real-time facial recognition in apparent reversal


The office of a Florida Sheriff who told a state House Justice Committee that people are not comfortable with real-time facial recognition and that using it is not the right thing to do earlier this year is considering setting up just such a biometric system, Orlando Weekly reports.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) closed a request for information (RFI) last week to assist in the design of a facial recognition system with “real-time facial searching capabilities from live surveillance cameras” among the 15 minimum specifications. Other specifications include the ability to search external facial recognition databases using web services, a mobile platform compatible with Android and iOS, user monitoring and image deletion capabilities, and a reverse search mechanism for matching against a database of unknown subjects.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s office runs the FR-Net database, which is reported to be the largest of its kind in the U.S., with 25 million facial images. Gualtieri told Florida legislators earlier this year that hundreds of agencies participate in the FR-Net system, and that the PCSO used a live facial recognition system about 15 years ago at a local airport, before halting the practice.

PCSO was not available to comment when contacted by Orlando Weekly.

Orlando police signed up for a second trial of Amazon’s Rekognition biometric software for real-time surveillance last year, but the training and communication related to the system have been criticized as inadequate.

The state has not to date passed any legislation related to facial recognition.

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