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India issues RFP for national biometric facial recognition system


India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is inviting bids from solutions providers for a new centralized Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) as the Ministry of Home Affairs seeks to modernize the country’s police force and upgrade its biometric identification capabilities.

The request for proposals outlines a centralized web application hosted by the NCRB, available for all police stations in the country to search facial images on a national platform with an application for Android, Windows, and iOS. Law enforcement officers in the field will take a photograph of a subject, and submit it to the local station, which will scan the AFRS for a match. The functional requirements of the system outlined in the RFP include capturing facial images from CCTV cameras, and generating alerts if an individual is matched to a blacklist. The system should also have integrated mug-shot application capabilities, and enable searches according to demographics and distinguishing characteristics like tattoos.

Vendors are also required to implement open integrations with at least five other databases. The system should launch with the capacity for processing up to 10 million images, and be upgradeable to process 50 million images, and should be able to handle simultaneous requests from 2,500 users. The five-year contract also includes system security, and training for NCRB staff.

MediaNama reports that the NCRB has already proposed to supply mobile data terminals for each police station, at a cost of 3.08 billion rupees (US$45 million) per 100,000 devices.

Images for the national database will be collected from “(p)assport, CCTNS, ICJS and Prisons, Ministry of women and child development (KhoyaPaya) State or National Automated Fingerprint Identification System or any other image database available with police/other entity. CCTNS is a law enforcement tracking network, and ICJS is a judicial system database. Aadhaar’s national civil database is not mentioned in the RFP.

India does not have a legal framework for data protection or oversight of surveillance systems, MediaNama points out, though Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the government is currently working on a data protection law.

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