Vancouver police to use facial-recognition technology in riot investigation

·Editor

The hundreds that broke windows and burned cars following Vancouver's game 7 Cup loss to Boston might want to take a cue from the handful that have already turned themselves in.

Vancouver police are combing through more than one million photos from the infamous riot, as well as thousands of hours of raw footage, using facial-recognition technology to aid in the investigation.

"Subject to receipt of a court order, the (Crown) corporation's facial-recognition technology will be able to support the identification of suspects," states a news report from Christy Clark's office in a Straight.com story.

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. has been using the technology since 2009, identifying those involved in theft or fraud by cross-referencing results with provincial driver licences.

By analyzing fixed facial characteristics such as the size/location of cheekbones and the distance between eyes, facial-recognition technology is able to extract the finite details of a person's face. Investigators then cross-reference the results with a database of photos, which can include drivers licences, health cards, passports, etc.

The U.S. Department of States operates one of the world's largest facial-recognition systems, using more than 75 million photos to verify identification when processing government issued visas.

Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa Bay, Florida incorporated facial recognition in its security efforts, successfully locating nearly 20 football fans with pending arrest warrants.

The addition of the tech is sure to boost an effort to bring the alleged rioters to justice. Vancouver police has assembled an Integrated Coordinated Investigation Team, joining efforts with the RCMP and Lower Mainland police forces.

Crown Attorney Neil MacKenzie reveals few charges have been laid, but investigations are expected to take quite some time.

"Obviously, the files are being given priority by Crown and police but it does take some time to complete the investigation and prepare reports," MacKenzie said in a CBC story. "Certainly, it appears the police are dealing with a substantial amount of evidence [and] information that they are going to have to assess and determine whether it supports charges."

(Photo credit: The Canadian Press)

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