Digital headhunter

Criminals – it doesn’t matter if they are from the U.S., France, Germany, Poland or anywhere else – use the newest technology, including Internet and computers.

To fight them, police must use the same high-tech equipment.
Warsaw authorities have decided to test and perhaps buy a new system that allows the computer to recognize faces of pedestrians recorded by monitoring cameras.

Here’s how it works: The digital
monitoring photos are reworked by the computer system.
The faces of the pedestrians are scanned and compared with faces in the police data base.

The computer detects individual, characteristic features like intervals between eyes, ears and nose, etc., to make a geometrical map of a face.
Then a computer program compares it with pictures of “wanted” criminals, which were also analyzed carefully.
The most difficult challenge for the scientists was to “teach” the computer how to recognize those characteristic features of a face in every circumstance, such as a different haircut, mimicry, beard or make-up.

Systems like these are expensive, but they can be worth it as they help to make video monitoring, which also costs a lot of money, more useful.
An officer usually is able to watch a monitoring screen carefully for 20 to 30 minutes.

The computer works all day long with the same efficiency and precision. If the system points out a suspect, it is never 100 percent correct. But for the police it is enough to check the suspect’s ID to confirm that he is indeed a wanted criminal.
The police hope Warsaw authorities decide to buy this system. “We run many extradition cases in which the most difficult thing is to pinpoint a wanted man’s location,” said John Bienkowski, the FBI’s representative in Poland.

“A system like this would do it faster and cheaper than traditional methods,” he told the daily newspaper Dziennik.
The digital headhunter already has been working successfully in Great Britain. Airports in the U.S. also have started to use it. Tests of the headhunter will be done in Poland next year.
Warsaw authorities have applied for EU grants to help finance the system.

It is estimated that it would cost 230 mln zloty to install the digital headhunter in Warsaw.

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