Facial recognition technology used by the NSW police could be exported to law enforcement agencies in Britain, the US and Hong Kong.
The Unisys Secure Image Management System (SIMS) uses CogniTech’s digital facial recognition technology to provide NSW police with a 'digital vault' of stills and video data, the uses for which extend into the most gruesome aspects of law enforcement.
These include the identification of deceased victims from tattoos or even from a decapitated head.
“Heads of the deceased victims are very resilient and their features can be identified if it is photographed early enough,” said Unisys' law enforcement program David Chadwick said.
“You have up to two days usually to be able to photograph a face before it swells due to rigor mortis.”
The NSW police can identify a face just as it might identify via finger prints, he said.
During a disaster scene, for example, police can aid the identification of bodies by taking a regular photo of a face and geotagging it.
Once cropped to size, Unisys’ SIMs technology can be used to search for all similar photos provided by families searching for missing relatives in the hope of find a series of matches.
A former police officer, Chadwick described how the driver of the car that bombed the Jakarta embassy in 2004 was decapitated, his head crashing through the window of an adjoining apartment block.
Even in this extreme situation, there were features on the head that helped to identify the perpetrator.
“The resilience of a head in an event makes facial recognition a worthwhile tool for investigators," Chadwick said. "You will do DNA or dental records to confirm identity."
Police were able to more quickly identify victims of plane crashes or other major tragedies, he said, to advise relatives and allow the grieving process to begin without the burden of uncertainty.
This usually involved the use of the manifest of who was on the flight, and the matching of photos supplied by relatives with victims identified at the scene of the disaster.
Disaster victim identification is an important process where there are mass casualties, he said. The aim is to reunite deceased with their loved ones - and only their loved ones.
How SIMS works
Developed using Microsoft Silverlight, Unisys SIMS solution is a suite of products that permits the distribution, management and processing of images and multimedia in enterprise environments.
The NSW Police Force uses SIMS to upload digital images from any source and securely archive the original in a digital vault.
Police can then attach metadata tags – such as case number, photograph time and date, photographer name – to a working copy of the image to enable easy retrieval.
Once the original image is uploaded, it can’t be modified or deleted. To ensure forensic integrity, the system tracks changes during every step.
SIMS also supports digital videos in a wide variety of formats. To make it easier for investigators to use the video footage, it is passed through a transcoding engine that converts it into a common, easily accessible format.
Unisys integrates SIMS with operational policing and other law enforcement systems using an Enterprise Services Bus.
SIMS runs on the Microsoft Windows Server platform, while the principles of clustering and redundancy have been used in designing the solution, enabling load sharing and fail-over.