NCJTC and Biometrica partner on facial recognition training for law enforcement
The National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) of Fox Valley Technical College has entered a new collaboration on instruction for facial recognition use with security-focused technology firm Biometrica.
The collaboration will see NCJTC and Biometrica pilot a foundational course to train law enforcement in the understanding and ethical use of facial recognition (FR) and big data technologies for critical investigations.
“The technology offers great promise to assist with investigations of all kinds, including crimes related to missing and exploited children,” says NCJTC Executive Director Bradley Russ.
Biometrica CEO Wyly Wade echoed Russ’ point: “We work on big data, use FR, and see the tremendous good it can do, especially for child safety and vulnerable adult protection, if used correctly.”
However, the executive also warns against using such technologies without accountability and guidelines.
“The mistrust isn’t just between law enforcement and communities, especially those of color, it’s also between tech companies and everyone else. We’re not big tech. We’re small tech,” Wade adds.
“But we wanted to try and rebuild some of that trust by working with NCJTC, who are outstanding at what they do, help them train law enforcement in using big data and FR, establish ethical use protocols, and make a start toward positive change.”
Russ reinforced Wade’s point about these technologies requiring training and guidelines.
“You don’t give an officer a firearm without proper training, reinforced by use-of-force policies that define acceptable use under a range of circumstances. It should work the same way with technology-based tools and information,” he adds.
“Give officers the tools they need to improve investigative capabilities in a tech-dominated world, but after they have been properly trained in the proper use of those tools.”
Public perception also concerns DHS
The ethical implications of law enforcement deploying biometric technologies were also analyzed in a GovConWire blog post by Shonnie Lyon, director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Office of Biometric Identity Management.
In the article, Lyon acknowledged that as the DHS transitions from its legacy biometric system to Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART), public perception and connected privacy worries remain a key area to address.
To this end, the security expert clarified that the DHS does not use facial recognition for surveillance purposes, but only for investigations.
Lyon also attempts to address issues connected to biographic and demographic bias in facial recognition applications.
“Biometric systems have to be trained on something, right? So the dataset you’re using actually has a huge impact on whether or not it can identify faces from a wide path of demographics,” Lyon said.
“The better, or the wider your dataset is, the better your algorithm’s going to actually be.”