Capital’s cops to get facial recognition devices soon

The device will allow officers to quickly establish the identity of suspects in the field

Shabbir Hussain March 27, 2019
The RPO took action against the cops in accordance with the law in a meeting chaired by him. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In what will be shot in the arm for the law enforcers in the federal capital, police at every check post of the city could soon be equipped with a facial recognition system to speed up the identification of suspects.

This was disclosed by the Islamabad Safe City Project Director Kashan Ahmed on Tuesday.

The project, which is still being tweaked, will see a list of all the wanted people uploaded on to a special application.

Ahmed explained that this application can be accessed from a camera-equipped mobile device which has LTE and 4G connectivity.  These devices will be given to officers who are deputed at key check-posts of the city.

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Walking through the features of the application, Ahmed explained that officers can use the device to take a picture of a suspect and within seconds, the facial recognition software in the device will analyse the image and match it to face in the database and present the officer with all available data on the subject.

To demonstrate the system, Ahmed loaded up his picture in the system and when a picture of his was taken from it, it quickly presented all the information on him.

The project director said that the federal capital’s police has prepared a list of absconders and wanted people which will be shared with personnel deputed at the checkpoints to identify the suspects through the new system.

He further said that they were currently training police officers to use the device effectively to make the programme a success.

Giving an overview of the massive network of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed across the city under the Safe City Project, Ahmed explained that as many as 1,944 cameras were installed.

Of these, he said, 1,807 cameras are currently active while the remaining 136 are inactive because of different development works in the city especially along certain sections of the Kashmir Highway and the Islamabad Expressway and other points.

Over the past two years since it has been active, Ahmed said that the project has helped fill-in crucial blanks in some 53,000 criminal cases, including 1,400 high-profile cases such as burglary, theft, murder and even terrorism.

Apart from helping solve crime, he said that the network of cameras help them monitor and manage the flow of traffic in the city while the relevant police stations can also be alerted through the wireless system if they see any criminal activity take place or are informed about it through public calls.

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Moreover, he said that the Safe City project receives thousands of call every day. But most of these calls are for general inquiries about the city rather than to actually report crimes.

Ahmed said that there was a need to raise awareness amongst the masses about the purpose of the centre so that such calls can be redirected to the proper department.

“Since this morning, we have received 702 calls about 640 incidents. Of these, police teams reached 28 points and from six areas they received useful feedback from locals,” he said. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2019.