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Bloomberg Proposes Expanded Facial Recognition in NYC

Mayor Unveils Technology Plan, touts police support.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, facing re-election Nov. 3, proposed a slew of high-tech safety and anti-crime initiatives, including a footwear database, cell phone tracking, and expansion of facial recognition and GPS technology.

Bloomberg His plan, unveiled at a campaign event Tuesday:

* Expanding the Real Time Crime Center to include facial recognition software: The center would, for example be able to compare an image on any camera to be compared to the city’s store of thousands of mugshots, and investigators would have quick access to all detectives’ notes and files.

* Creating a “Footwear Recognition Database”: This would contain shoe profiles and would look for matches between shoe prints and shoe type, color, brand, unique markings and sole images. In addition, the database would be able to conduct “Cinderella analysis” that can show who the regular wearer of a shoe is through information such as the angle of footfall and weight distribution. This technology is already in action in the United Kingdom.

* Enabling cellphone tracking: The city will work with cell phone carriers to include a consent form allowing law enforcement to track their whereabouts in an emergency.

* Using GPS to deter gang activity in public housing: Bloomberg wants to use GPS technology in as a bail or sentence condition to keep gang members away from other gang members and gang-affiliated locations (similar to what is already done with people under house arrest and sex offenders.)

Also, representatives of three police groups— NYPD Detectives Endowment Association, the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association, and the NYPD Captain’s Endowment Association—endorsed Bloomberg.

According to the Bloomberg campaign, New York City’s crime rate is at its lowest level in over 40 years and is the safest big city in the nation.

Bloomberg’s four-page plan is here.

And the news site amNY has analysis here.

And, read more about facial recognition technology in the October 2009 issue of Government Video.