Tampa Police Award Deal for Facial ID System

Visionics Corp. will integrate facial identification technology into a close-circuit television system to support law enforcement efforts by the Tampa, Fla., Police Department.

Visionics of Jersey City, N.J, will provide the Tampa police with a proprietary facial recognition software engine, known as FaceIt, that allows computers to rapidly detect and recognize faces, the company said June 29.

The FaceIt system will be deployed via 36 cameras that will be installed in the entertainment district known as Ybor City in downtown Tampa. The system automatically scans the faces of people passing in front of the cameras and matches those images against photographs of criminals held in a database at the police control room.

The company declined to disclose the value of the contract.

Adding FaceIt to the closed-circuit TV system was approved in June by the Tampa City Council and Mayor Dick Greco as part of the security initiative surrounding an economic revitalization project in Ybor City.

The database is maintained by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Tampa Police Department. When fully operational, it will contain about 30,000 images of persons with outstanding felony warrants.

In accordance with industry-established privacy guidelines and existing law governing the use of personal data by public agencies, the Tampa Police Department will take the following steps:

*Post signs throughout the area indicating that "smart" cameras are in use;

*Retain only images of known offenders and not suspected offenders;

*Discard nonmatching images from the system once the comparison has been completed.

In addition to Ybor City, Visionics' FaceIT technology is the underlying face recognition engine for closed-circuit TV operations in Iceland's Keflavik Airport and the United Kingdom's Newham Borough of London and Birmingham City Center.

Visionics has about 130 employees and had revenue of $22.9 million in 2000, according to Hoover's Online of Austin, Texas.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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