Edmonton Police Deploy NeoFace Biometric Technology in Criminal Investigations

A police force in one of Canada’s largest cities has deployed facial recognition technology from NEC to help with his criminal investigations.

Edmonton Police Department officials disclosed their use of the technology this week, but stressed the rollout is the result of years of preparation. The service uses NeoFace Reveal to scan the faces of individual suspects from surveillance images and compare them to electronic photo databases held by EPS and the Calgary Police Department. (Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta, while Calgary is Alberta’s most populous city and a leading cultural center.)

In announcing the rollout, EPS officials strongly emphasized the various constraints and safeguards around how the facial recognition technology will be used. The technology will not be applied to live streams, only to photographic and video evidence, and only to identify suspects and potential leads in specific criminal investigations. Only members of a specialized investigation team will have access to the technology, and their activities using the NeoFace platform may be audited by supervisors.

EPS officials also said they had submitted a privacy impact assessment to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta – a voluntary step that is not legally required of them. (The Bureau has not yet responded to the assessment.)

EPS’ efforts to highlight its safeguards and attention to privacy are perhaps best understood in the context of the Clearview AI revelations. Its internet trawling facial recognition platform has been showcased to a wide range of police departments and other organizations, and a recent report has brought scrutiny to the Toronto Police Service by revealing that Toronto police had tested the Clearview AI software.

The Clearview uproar prompted the Ottawa Police Service to reveal its own trial of facial recognition technology in early 2020, although in this case the technology in question was NeoFace Reveal and, as in the Edmonton rollout , it was only used to search for matches against a database of mugshots.

After outlining its safeguards, the EPS was also keen to note that NEC’s facial recognition technology is already showing results, having been officially in use for about a month. Devin Laforce, superintendent of EPS’ Research and Development Division, said NeoFace Reveal’s research helped identify three suspects in an assault case and led to leads in a homicide investigation, adding that the Service is “confident that this facial recognition tool will keep our communities safe and secure.” secured” by offering a unique form of assistance in criminal investigations.

Sources: Edmonton newspaper, CTV News, World News

February 2, 2022 – by Alex Perala

Mark M. Gagnon