Biometric Software Is Added to Surveillance System in Virginia Beach, Va.


Surveillance cameras on public streets in Virginia Beach, Va., are now integrated with new biometric software, in hopes to better scan for criminals. The city is the second in the nation to have this digital manhunt-type system in place, which compares images of pedestrians captured on camera to digital versions of police photos, reports Knight-Ridder.

So far the technology has not led to the arrest of any suspect in the United States, but advocates see the cameras as a powerful deterrent. “We may not even make an arrest as a result of using this technology,” says Virginia Beach Police Chief A.M. “Jake” Jacocks Jr., “but if it keeps criminals out of the resort area and keeps the resort area safe, then that’s a success.”

Police in Virginia Beach, a city of 425,000 people, have digital photos of 650 criminals in its database. But the hardware can store 30,000 digital photos.

The department expects to work with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to search for fugitives and missing persons believed to be in Virginia Beach.

The cameras scan a face in less than a second and up to six images at once, says Deputy Police Chief Gregory Mullen. The facial-recognition software in place measures 80 facial features, and an alarm will sound if a camera determines that at least 14 measurements match a digital photo. It can improve the overall safety in a city that attracts approximately 3 million tourists a year, says Chief Jacocks.

Police in Virginia Beach and Tampa, Fla., the other city where this technology is being used, see the cameras as a strong deterrent to criminals wanted there on outstanding felony warrants.

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