Sparta Report

Orlando Police Try to Explain Use of Amazon Facial Recognition Cameras

Our wonderful new “surveillance society” seems to keep on expanding without limit:

Three surveillance cameras in downtown Orlando are equipped with Amazon’s high-tech facial-recognition software, police Chief John Mina confirmed Thursday — contradicting his claim a day earlier that the software was only being tested at OPD headquarters.

He said at a news conference that five cameras with the company’s Rekognition software are in the department’s headquarters. The software is also installed on three of the city’s IRIS cameras downtown, he said.

Mina still insisted no members of the public are being tracked by the software. Seven OPD officers who volunteered for the pilot are the only people whose images have been uploaded into the system, he said.

He said the software could someday be used in more cameras and for investigations, but “we’re a long way away from that.”

“We test new equipment all the time,” he said. “We test new guns, new vests, new shields, new things for police cars all the time. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to go with that particular product. We just want to see if it works.”

In a video posted to YouTube by Amazon Web Services Korea, Ranju Das, the director of the program for Amazon, called Orlando a launch partner. He then played footage that he said was from a traffic camera in Orlando.

“They have cameras all over the city,” he said. “The authorized cameras are then streaming the data … We are a subscriber to the stream. We analyze the video in real time, search against the collection of faces that they have.”

The video showed a neighborhood street with people exiting a vehicle, and one walking a dog. The Rekognition system was able to track them, tracing their path with colorful dots.

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