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Computers and CCTV
Automatic Facial Recognition Systems (AFRS) are currently being developed and trialled, for application in a number of key areas. Using the computers ability to scan a facial image and rapidly compare it against a database of known individuals, it is likely to prove most beneficial in areas of high pedestrian traffic; such as the retail industry for shopping malls and department stores, for customs in ports / airports, and increasingly in years to come, as a means of tracking terrorist suspects.
As with ANPR, the computer processing may look impressive but it is most certainly not foolproof, in fact current industry figures suggest that AFRS only works at perhaps 40 - 50% accuracy, and that's under carefully controlled conditions.Given that its accuracy is so questionable , it also raises many questions over its application in relation to the issues surrounding an individuals civil liberties.
As Doktor Jon has mentioned elsewhere in this site, the suggestion that an individual is assumed to be possibly guilty, until confirmed by an AFRS database as being almost certainly innocent, does represent a quantum shift in the legal basis, normally applied here in the U.K.
Automatic Predictive Behaviour Analysis (APBA) is supposed to provide a high tech method of addressing certain categories of crime by pre empting an incident, based purely on the behaviour or body language of the individual under observation. The technique has also been described as 'gait' monitoring, and given that AFRS is currently struggling to become reliable, would it surprise you to know that APBA is lagging even further behind.
There is also a varient of these predictive systems that can be effectively applied as an early warning system for a whole range of diverse applications. For example, cameras can be set up to scan an airport or station concourse for any unattended bags or packages or vehicles approaching or parking in restricted areas etc. Whilst still very much in development, the best of these extremely advanced systems are hugely impressive, and do offer significant potential for the future, particularly in relation to analysing large volumes of recorded material.
At present, development is proceeding on both control room based computer systems, and also 'distributed' intelligent processing built in to the cameras themselves (which if successful, will go some way towards reducing the data load on a network, but not necessarily address the needs of the Criminal Justice System). It should be said though that the implications for this technology does suggest a future move towards almost total reliance on automatic systems, and a somewhat questionable interpretation on what would constitute best practice, in relation to general civil liberties and privacy issues.
Whilst these automatic systems will continue to evolve, and no doubt prove increasingly efficient as the research and development gains pace, there are other somewhat predictable applications, which so far have yet to be introduced. As a simple example, cameras watching the corridors leading to toilets in ports, airports, stations and department stores, which could easily be connected to a computer analysis system, so if an individual decides to change their clothes (possibly into 'shoplifted' merchandise) the target could then automatically be 'flagged' for closer observation by the security personnel.
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