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Motorola to add facial recognition to mobile policing app Pronto

Application already supports fingerprint recognition
Motorola to add facial recognition to mobile policing app Pronto

Motorola Solutions has announced a trial of facial recognition capabilities on its mobile policing app Pronto, which already supports fingerprint recognition with technology from Integrated Biometrics.

The company shared the plans at the British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (BAPCO) conference, which took place in Coventry between March 7 and 8. At the event on ‘Using Biometrics to enhance frontline operations,’ Ian Williams, a former police officer and now senior consultant for critical communications at Motorola, said that fingerprint recognition has “limitations” and that the ability to take a picture will greatly enhance subject identification.

Williams also clarified that the technology deployed within Pronto would be operator-initiated facial recognition (OIFR), as opposed to live facial recognition (LFR). The latter technology has in the past sparked controversy in the UK for allegedly violating human rights.

“There is no collateral intrusion with OIFR. The officer is already dealing with a person for a policing purpose, even if the subject is non-compliant,” said Williams, as quoted by Police Professional. “With ‘federated’ searching using OIFR, the decision is the officer’s alone, not a computer.”

Contextualizing the move, Williams said using OIFR is especially relevant considering the judges’ decision in a 2020 South Wales Police case. While the case ruled the use of LFR was unlawful, Williams highlighted that police forces still have a “common law right to take and use photographs for a policing purpose.”

The claims are corroborated by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), which states that police can legitimately take the photograph of individuals detained at a police station “with the appropriate consent; or if the appropriate consent is withheld or it is not practicable to obtain it, without it.”

Because of this, the deployment of OIFR technologies does not require any changes to the law. Williams concluded Motorola intends to start testing the technology with UK police forces by the start of the summer.

The Motorola announcement comes days after a UK police association published new voluntary guidelines for using live facial recognition.

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