How AI and Facial Recognition Are Transforming Police Case Management

How AI and Facial Recognition Are Transforming Police Case Management
January 23, 2020 Sara Ekberg

How AI and Facial Recognition Are Transforming Police Case Management

Article published on IFSEC Global January 23rd, 2020. 

Johann Hofmann, CEO of Griffeye, discusses why AI and facial recognition are more important than ever in law enforcement case management, and how the technology works in practice.

The concept of “machines who can think for themselves” has existed since the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers, however the first time the world actually saw AI in practice was in the late 1990s, when IBM’s Deep Blue technology became the first computer to beat a chess champion, Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov. AI started coming into its own in the 2010s with the evolution of chatbots like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, as well as the use of AI to enable other technologies, such as facial recognition.

“…it augments the human investigator who is sifting through ever-growing volumes of criminal content in order to help prosecute criminals and protect victims.”

Facial recognition came into mainstream use around the same time as AI because the combination of these technologies is what was required to make it properly usable. The concept of facial recognition was invented in the 1960s by Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe, who developed a system that could classify photos of faces using an electromagnetic stylus on coordinates of a grid to map facial features. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was a highly manual process, but it proved that this sort of technology would be viable. Facial recognition then started to crop up in places like airports for automated security screening, however many will remember it frequently failing at first, as the technology was adapting to public use. Today facial recognition is predominantly used by social media platforms to identify people in photos, in personal technology as a security feature (i.e. iPhone 7’s Face ID), at airport biometric gates and, of course, by law enforcement.

The common association between AI, facial recognition and law enforcement is that police use this technology to identify suspects (people on watchlists such as terrorists and gang members) in public places via CCTV or bodyworn cameras. However, there is also a hugely important part to play for this technology in case management as well which is often forgotten in public discourse, namely that it augments the human investigator who is sifting through ever-growing volumes of criminal content in order to help prosecute criminals and protect victims.

In this article I’ll discuss why this new technology is important now more than ever in law enforcement case management, before going into an overview of how the tech works in practice, illustrating my argument with how it is used to fight real-world crime such as child sexual abuse, gang crime and terrorism.

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