FBI to Give Facial Recognition Software to Law-enforcement AgenciesAug 24, 2012
By Ryan Gallagher
|A security camera is seen across the street from the World Trade Center site. Courtesy of Mario Tama/Getty Images|
The speedy onward march of biometric technology continues. After recently announcing plans for a nationwide iris-scan database, the FBI has revealed it will soon hand out free facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies across the United States.
The software, which was piloted in February in Michigan, is expected to be rolled out within weeks. It will give police analysts access to a so-called “Universal Face Workstation” that can be used to compare a database of almost 13 million images. The UFW will permit police to submit and enhance image files so they can be cross-referenced with others on the database for matches.
Instituting the technology nationally is the latest stage in the FBI’s $1 billion Next-Generation Identification program, which will also establish a system for searching a database of scars, marks, and tattoos. The FBI’s Jerome Pender, who was recently named executive assistant director of the Information and Technology Branch, says in a statement that Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska and Missouri have already expressed interest in trying out the UFW. Pender says that “full operational capability” for facial recognition is scheduled for the summer of 2014.