The South Australian government has awarded NEC Australia with a AU$780,000 contract to implement facial-recognition technology as of late October for the state’s police force in an effort to make it easier to identify persons of interest and missing persons.
The facial-recognition technology allows police to compare images of suspects from such sources as closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage against offender databases. In future, the technology has the capacity to instantly identify people on real-time CCTV footage, but this feature won’t be used on launch.
According to Police Minister Peter Malinauskas, the technology will be rolled out by late October as part of a state government push to reduce crime by boosting police numbers and resources.
“Our police budget is at the highest level in history, with more front-line police soon to be on the beat than ever before,” Malinauskas said on Monday.
“The world we live in is changing, and with that comes a need to change the way we police.”
The South Australian government’s decision to deploy facial identification follows the Northern Territory’s implementation of the technology in September last year.
The success of the technology in the Northern Territory, which was also implemented by NEC Australia, influenced South Australia to adopt it, South Australia Police Superintendent Scott Allison said.
“They’ve had extraordinary results from CCTV images that they’ve captured, through to enhanced investigations, even historical investigations,” Allison said.
Northern Territory Police partnered with NEC Australia almost a year ago to implement facial-recognition technology, deploying NEC’s NeoFace Reveal solution following a trial of the tech in early 2015. The technology allows NT Police to search through its database of photos, CCTV footage, and videos taken from phones, drones, and body-worn cameras to compare to the police database of photos.
In April this year, NEC Australia also secured a AU$52 million contract with Australian law-enforcement technology agency CrimTrac to replace the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) in 2017.
The system will involve not only fingerprints, but also palm prints and facial recognition.
“The Biometric Identification System (BIS) will not only integrate with existing law-enforcement systems, but advance as our nation’s biometric capability advances,” Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan said in a statement at the time.
“This is vital in the current national security landscape, because it is essential to have robust and efficient cross-border information sharing to support the law enforcement agencies that protect our communities.
“It’s also vital our authorities are one step ahead of the sophistication of organised criminal syndicates who are adopting new and advanced technologies to exploit Australians and increase the misery they peddle.”
The Australian government had allocated AU$700,000 to CrimTrac as part of its 2015 Budget for the development of the facial recognition system.
The federal government also announced last year that it would spend AU$18.5 million to establish the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability for image-sharing purposes by government and law-enforcement agencies, which was expected to be up and running by mid-2016.