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Facial Recognition

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is now using a facial recognition solution to assist in criminal investigations. After extensive research into the benefits of facial recognition technology over the last several years, the EPS has secured a contract with NEC Corporation of America.

NEC’s NeoFace Reveal facial recognition solution is used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the world. It delivers prompt and reliable facial recognition results and works in conjunction with EPS’ and Calgary Police Service’s mugshot database, enabling both police services to share data securely.

Although specific privacy laws differ from country to country, EPS has submitted all relevant materials for review by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta to outline the EPS’ application of the solution, ensuring it is applied in full compliance with FOIP legislation. Mugshot images collected under the Identification of Criminals Act will be the only images matched against a suspect’s photo within the solution.  The solution will not be used for surveillance purposes and will not be applied over live streams or social media platforms.

Facial recognition has been around since the 1960’s, when a research team began using computers to recognize human faces. Biometric authentication is used in computer science as a form of identification or access control. Many of the personal security features used today, such as Apple’s Face ID or the fingerprint required to unlock a cell phone, use this technology.

A PDF version of the news release can be found here.

The media avail can be watched here


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What facial recognition solution is EPS using and how does it work?

The EPS entered into a contract with NEC Corporation of America for their NeoFace Reveal facial recognition solution. The solution employs biometrics to aid in the identification of a suspect using points on their face. This solution is applied to compare still images, such as photos or CCTV footage of a suspect, against a secure mugshot database maintained under the Identification of Criminals Act.

2. Who will have access to facial recognition?

Only a select group of trained technicians within EPS will be able to apply the solution. Investigators will have to submit their requests through the technicians in order to apply facial recognition to their investigations.

3. How will facial recognition be applied?

Facial recognition does not replace the human component of investigative work. A trained technician will analyze all matches produced through the solution, to aid in the identification of a suspect before any further investigative steps are pursued.

In addition, and similar to fingerprinting, the solution is also be used to aid in the identification of individuals taken into custody who may provide false information about their identity.

4. Will facial recognition be applied to social media platforms?

The EPS will not be applying facial recognition to social media platforms, nor will it be used as a public surveillance tool. The solution will be applied for very specific investigative reasons.

5. How will my privacy be protected?

All applications of the solution are in compliance with FOIP legislation. The solution will run within a controlled and secure network. All data will be protected by a variety of safeguards, including security systems and firewalls.