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U.S. Army base childcare center again tenders for biometric surveillance system

U.S. Army base childcare center again tenders for biometric surveillance system

The U.S. Army is going ahead with research into the impact of facial recognition surveillance on children in a Fort Jackson, South Carolina, child development center.

A solicitation for the project was originally published (and reported on) in November 2020 with a 5 December 2020 closing date. The new request for tenders appears to be largely similar, but was posted on 27 August, closing on 25 September 2021.

The one-year solicitation contract states how the center has been tasked “to demonstrate success or failure for implementing commercially available video analytics and other artificial intelligence approaches to existing camera systems in Fort Jackson, SC child development center (CDC) to evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches for monitoring the health and well-being of children in the CDC.”

Fort Jackson’s Scales Avenue Center, which has CCTV, and is monitored by staff, would be fitted with a face biometrics system in the expectation that it will “improve service member and family quality of life, reduce base costs, and enhance mission readiness,” according to the request.

A successful bidder would have to demonstrate the capabilities of their system and assess the business case for continuing the AI monitoring.

A good deal of attention will be paid to this project, assuming it is assigned, in the U.S. and abroad.

AI bias is a well-worn argument against deploying indiscriminate algorithmic surveillance. Others wary of the technology in schools see an uncomfortable expansion of a technology deployed in federal prisons.

Another side sees facial recognition in schools as a way to reduce student violence, abuse of students and staff and campus mass killings. It can also obviate the need for physical identification for access to facilities and information.

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