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November 20, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Facewatch is the National low level crime reporting and image sharing system for businesses. (Vimeo)

One UK-based firm has combined facial recognition and CCTV technology to give businesses the ability to identify and track "repeat offenders" on-site. With endorsements from Philadelphia's police commissioner, the Chief Crown Prosecutor of London and Crimestoppers among others, the technology gotten its fair share of press. (And yes, there's an app for that.)
posted by beaucoupkevin (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've uploaded that woman to SmirkWatch.

...what "due process" to have yourself removed from SmirkWatch?
posted by DU at 9:42 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call me a beanplater, but the smirk implies to me that she's a paid spokesmodel and not a true believer.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:00 AM on November 20, 2012


Wait, Philadelphia what? Our Police Commissioner endorsed that?
posted by SPUTNIK at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2012


One UK-based firm has combined facial recognition and CCTV technology to give businesses the ability to identify and track "repeat offenders" on-site.
Is that really what it's doing? It seems more like a website to make it easier to send crime reports and CCTV clips to the police. The police can then use it to make public appeals for information, and issue fotos of offenders to other businesses. The police already do all of these things.
posted by Jehan at 10:31 AM on November 20, 2012


But now the police can do it...In The Cloud!!!
posted by freebird at 10:37 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call me a beanplater, but the smirk implies to me that she's a paid spokesmodel and not a true believer.

It kinda negates her message and I was waiting for her to put on a Guy Fawkes mask or something.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:38 AM on November 20, 2012


I've just downloaded the app. All the pictures were from the police. I can't see if that is because only the police are submitting the pictures, or whether the police are the only ones who can submit pictures. I hope it's the latter.

It's also interesting to note that the site is free to the Police and free to businesses. It's a bit Big Brotherish, but it is also an interesting social enterprise. I'm guess that the technology and IP is owned by the parent for-profit company. The site itself it is ad-funded, although there may also be grants funding it that they aren't disclosing publicly. The UK operating business that runs the website is not for profit.

This, apparently, is the market providing the solution to a public problem. If so, expect to hear it talked up by right wing politicians for some time.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:39 AM on November 20, 2012


I've just downloaded the app. All the pictures were from the police. I can't see if that is because only the police are submitting the pictures, or whether the police are the only ones who can submit pictures. I hope it's the latter.
I'm pretty sure that unless the images go through the police, posting up a big "this person is a criminal" is a highroad to court. It would be highly surprising if businesses could send picture that went live without police approval.
posted by Jehan at 10:41 AM on November 20, 2012


My first thought was that this would be a system that used cameras and face recognition to alert a shop owner when a convicted criminal came into the store. I take it that it does not do this?
posted by LarryC at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2012


Unless I'm missing something, the only facial recognition system being employed is human eyeballs.
posted by orme at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2012


Yeah, I'm a dummy. I was making notes while watching the video and surfing the site. Had a question mark there and somehow left it in. Sorry.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2012


I can see no way that this will ever be abused. None at all.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:57 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'M TAKING YOU DOWN, HOMELESS TURNSTILE JUMPER
posted by brain_drain at 11:13 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Never a bad time to remind you all about CV Dazzle, makeup techniques that camoflage you from computer-vision algorithms.
posted by mhoye at 11:16 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given that these people are suspects would the UK's libel laws be an issue?
posted by srboisvert at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2012


Never a bad time to remind you all about CV Dazzle, makeup techniques that camoflage you from computer-vision algorithms.

Then they add gait analysis. At that point. you not only have to dress and use makeup in a weird way, you need to silly-walk. Pretty soon, you're sticking out because of your efforts to avoid CV, and the algorithms will zero in on that!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2012


My first thought was that this would be a system that used cameras and face recognition to alert a shop owner when a convicted criminal came into the store. I take it that it does not do this?
No. I've seen police and businesses interact over information about known criminals, and the police are very sensitive over how they deal with such information. Basically, the police will give images of convicted criminals to businesses only within three criteria: 1) that the criminals are known for retail thefts, and so it is relevant for shop owners to know about them; 2) that the images are not shown or displayed to anybody but staff, and that they are both marked with the business's name and returned to the police when requested; and 3) that shop owners do not take action against the individuals, but merely inform police that they're in the area. Given these constraints, the idea that the police would sanction something which gives "businesses the ability to identify and track "repeat offenders" on-site" seems pretty faraway.

Appeals for information using CCTV are different, but well within practises established by Crimestoppers and the like.

Sometimes, but seldom, an habitual criminal will be barred from all businesses in an area. Their name and face will be displayed publicly with this information. But this isn't on the initiative of businesses, but rather after the issuing of a kind of court order, an ASBO. Of the dozens of photographs of convicted criminals I've seen police issue to local retailers over the last couple of years, only one has had this complete and public ban (hi Stephen Golubovic!).
posted by Jehan at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Orwellian.
posted by Catblack at 12:04 PM on November 20, 2012


On closer investigation this is not at all what it appears to be on the description.

It's not some new tracking technology.

It's a crime reporting system, which is the sort of thing the police probably should have had already but didn't.

It also seems to do businesses-to-business info. My home town in Scotland had a town centre shop walkie-talkie system where they'd warn each other about what local troublemakers were up to. That was 10 years ago.

The weirdest thing is that this Facewatch was created by Simon Gordon of Gordon's Wine Bar in London.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 2:52 PM on November 20, 2012


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