The Indian government plans to create one of the largest facial recognition systems in the world in an ambitious project that is aimed to help law enforcement agencies to function more effectively.
The vision is to create a single central data base in the future that can be accessed by police of the 29 states and seven union territories of the country.
For this purpose, the government has already prepared a 172-page document and which has been published by the National Crime Records Bureau and the government is now seeking bids from companies who would be interested in building the data base and complete the project. The bidding time for the project has already closed earlier this month.
The project is yet to be formally named. The basic premise of the project is to use a central data base of pictures and faces with pictures from the increasing number of CCTV cameras being installed in all parts of the country. The data base would be comprised of mug shots of criminals, passport photos and other images gathered by agencies of the country such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The system would also allow agencies to search for faces on the basis of photos uploaded from newspapers and those sent in by the public or even sketches of suspected criminals made by artists. According to the tender document, the system is also so envisioned that it would be able to recognize faces on closed-circuit cameras and “generate alerts if a blacklist match is found”.
Further, police and other law enforcement agencies would be given hand-held mobile devices which they can use to instantly capture a face while in the field and instantly compare it with those pictures and images that are available already in the national data base via an app.
According to the document published by the National Crime Records Bureau of India, this new and innovative nationwide facial recognition platform “can play a very vital role in improving outcomes” in the case of identifying criminals or missing persons or unclaimed bodies. It added that this platform can also help police forces “detect crime patterns” and thereby help in preventing crime.
Till date there is no confirmation about how many companies have shown interest in participating in the project as well as the time frame for the beginning of the project.
Reports however suggested that a pre-bid meeting was held with about 80 representatives of vendors, and the meeting was organized in July in the national capital of New Delhi. Reports claimed that discussions about the integration of the national database with local police platforms were held along with talks about whether the new system would be able to also identify faced that have undergone plastic surgery.
“To be eligible to bid, a company has to have completed at least three facial recognition projects globally,” said Apar Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation, an NGO which has put forward a legal notice to cancel the call for bids. “This disqualifies most Indian companies.”
(Adapted from CNN.com)