Interpol launches new facial recognition system

Interpol launches new facial recognition system

If people already act as supervisors, this should also be exploited. Image: interpol

New interpol secretary general calls for increased use of biometrics. The bka also wants to participate in the platform. Own databases have been searched with photos for 10 years already

A new facial recognition platform at interpol has achieved its first successes. This was announced by the secretary general of the international police organization, jurgen stock, at a conference on the police use of biometric data. According to the report, a comparison of a database maintained by interpol has led to about 50 "hits" . The photos deposited there came from 135 countries.

For what purposes the biometric facial images were used, interpol does not explain. A fingerprint database that has existed at interpol for a long time is used in dubious cases to verify identity when crossing the european union’s border. According to interpol, there are currently 180.000 entries are included. The database lists more than 40.000 annual queries, which in 2017 resulted in more than 1.700 "identifications" had led to.

Matching with interpol’s search database

The new system is the software "morphoface investigate", project, which was launched at interpol a year ago after a two-year test run. From the french company safran identity security, it can process various image and video formats. Initially, it will use photos of people who are wanted or missing through interpol. The images contained in two corresponding databases will be checked for their quality and, if they are suitable for facial recognition, will be adopted.

The new facial recognition capability is part of the project "interpol 2020", with which the general secretariat in lyon, france, is reforming the tasks, priorities and structures of the organization. Under the keyword "interoperability" the existing interpol databases will be expanded and additional member states will be connected.

The bka also wants to participate

For the implementation of the new procedure at interpol and the interconnection of the 190 member states, the organization has set up an "facial expert working group" set up. After several conferences and working meetings, the group has developed a guideline for the format and quality of facial images sent to interpol, with expertise from the us fbi.

A photo search in the interpol database may currently only be carried out by a regional bureau designated by each member state (in the case of germany, the bundeskriminalamt). The access takes place according to the "hit/ no hit"-procedure: if a person is found with the help of facial recognition, further information can be requested.

The bka also wants "morphoface investigate" use at interpol. Auber for the identification of unknown persons or for the comparison of mug shots, the manufacturer of "morphoface investigate" other areas of application. Accordingly, the photos could also be combined with publicly available image and video data ("public media images") can be compared in order to locate wanted persons in this way.

Control of persons during "critical events"

This refers to photos and videos on the internet or social networks. This is confirmed by a technical director of interpol in a presentation describing other crime areas for use. This includes human trafficking, maritime piracy, drugs, robbery or forgery. Interpol also has a need to use images from video surveillance in an automated process or to check persons during "critical events" .

It is also conceivable that the system could be integrated into border control systems. In case of a border crossing an inquiry at interpol was made automatically. This could also be "in real time" by means of mobile devices used by police forces. The european union is currently building a new "entry and exit register", which will also process facial images. At present, regular checks at eu borders only consult the interpol database of stolen or missing identity documents.

Bka tests similar procedures

The project "interpol 2020" was pushed by the new secretary general jurgen stock. Before joining interpol, stock was vice-president in the bka, where he was responsible for technical developments and contacts with industry. In 2006, he supervised, among other things, the facial recognition project in mainz, germany, which was tested in public spaces. As a result, the 2-d method, which is now outdated, was judged to be too prone to error, and plans to monitor public space came to a temporary end.

A year later, the bka introduced a facial recognition system for the inpol file, which is centrally managed in wiesbaden, germany. The database is available to state criminal investigation departments via a network interface, and the federal police also use the system. Matching with mugshots has increased significantly in recent years. The bka and the federal police are working on research projects to improve the technology. The bka is now testing a new procedure at the sudkreuz train station in berlin.

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