Biometrics-based platform in the works in Ireland to help track organized crime suspects

Solution being developed at the Idiap Research Institute
Biometrics-based platform in the works in Ireland to help track organized crime suspects

The police service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Ireland national police service (Garda) are partnering to develop a forensic identity solution that will be used to track persons suspected of involvement in organized crime and acts of terrorism.

This is according to the Belfast Telegraph, which also quoted The Sunday Times as reporting that the platform dubbed Roxanne is a surveillance technology which will make such identification possible by analyzing biometric data from voice calls, speech patterns, texts and videos. The technology can also determine the age and gender of individuals from analysis of speech patterns and language, according to the report.

The report said the solution, which is a European Union-funded project, with the support of Israel’s Ministry of Public Security, is currently being developed at the Idiap Research Institute in the Swiss city of Martigny.

Helen McEntee, the Republic of Ireland’s Justice Minister, confirmed the development in a Parliamentary intervention last week, saying it was a solution meant to help bust criminal networks in the country.

“The project is a collaboration between law enforcement, industry and academia to develop new tools to support investigations. I understand the project is funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative and is made up of 24 members from the private and public sectors,” the Telegraph quoted McEntee as saying in Parliament.

The report also cited a statement by the Gardai headquarters in Dublin saying the development of the biometric platform is part of response efforts against what it described as “evolving threats.”

A Garda police spokesperson said, as a result of this, they were “…increasing our capabilities and knowledge, and working with partner agencies and police services to ensure organised crime does not impact on our society.”

The Garda headquarters’ statement quoted by the Telegraph further highlights the importance of the project, arguing it will strengthen and enhance the “…capabilities and capacity of Ireland’s national police and security service to combat international and transnational serious and organised crime, in addition to combating threats against the security of the state.”

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