May 26, 2022


Born to play

NSW Police wants platform to create “complete biometric profile” of crims – Hardware – Software

NSW Police is planning to replace its legacy PhotoTrac facial recognition system with an integrated platform capable of creating a “complete biometric profile of an offender”.

Amid calls to ban the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, the force has revealed plans for a new integrated biometrics capture and analysis platform (IBP) project to better “anticipate, detect and disrupt crime”.

The system, which NSW Police is yet to receive funding for, is slated to give State Intelligence Command “increased facial recognition capabilities”, while improving the quality of biometric data.

NSW Police has used PhotoTrac – described as a “custom suite of systems to record and store images of charges persons to formulate photographic identification parades” – since 2003.

The system is used to compare a “provided image (probe image) against a range of facial image in NSWPF [NSW Police Force’s] existing databases and Nexis, the Commonwealth Interoperability Hub”.

Potential matches from the more than a million charge photos are then compared by facial examiners to produce leads for investigators.

But with the system at end of life, NSW Police has issued a request for information to find an end-to-end biometrics capture and analysis solution that is “fit-for-purpose, compliant and future proofed”.

The RFI reveals the new solution would “move away from focusing solely on facial images, to enable the integration of other biometric modalities to provide a complete biometric profile of an offender”.

“The solution will integrate multi-modal biometric templates to increase data capture as well as intelligence and forensic holdings,” NSW Police said.

“It is envisioned that fingerprint and DNA collection and storage processes will be incorporated into the front end, whilst back end analytical process will enable streamlined classification of scars, marks and tattoos, facial and object recognition and other biometric analysis services.”

NSW Police currently collect approximately 100,000 sets of fingerprints each year primarily using LiveScan devices at police stations across the state.

The fingerprints are transmitted to the national automated fingerprint identification solutions (NAFIS), with the results recorded in NSW Police’s core operational policing system (COPS) database.

NSW Police said the RFI would be used to “gain intelligence and an understanding of market capability and expertise on products and solutions that would form part of an IBP”.

But it stressed the IBP project remains “in the planning stages” and that the force “is not currently funded for the purchase of any software or hardware solution”.

With need to collect, ingest and store “facial images, fingerprints, voice and DNA using the system, NSW Police said it understands that not all capability may be delivered by a single provider.

“NSWPF intends to implement the components in a vendor agnostic manner to maintain the ability to integrate the components with each other, with our NSWPF tools and systems and with other third-party products and solutions,” it said.

Earlier this year, the Australian Human Rights Commission called for a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition and other biometric technology in “high-risk” government decision making until new laws are developed.

The commission considers policing and law enforcement one of the high-risk areas,  or  “contexts where the consequences of error can be grave”, for the use of the technology.