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News - 3 January 2013

Leading-edge work on automated image recognition

The technologies and methods used by the authorities to identify individuals from CCTV footage are many and various. It isn't just faces that are subject to automated recognition techniques - effective ID'ing from grainy CCTV images is still a way off. But other biometrics have much to offer.

Rob Hastings, writing in The Independent, takes a look at the work of two leading experts in the field of automated facial recognition systems.  He finds that they have little time for those suffering from over-developed Big Brother paranoia.

Professor Mark Nixon has “had a few fights” with civil liberties groups in his time, says Hastings. As a world-leading expert in developing biometric techniques to identify people using CCTV – every anti-surveillance campaigner’s Big Brother bête noir – he knows all too well what they think of his work. “They say we’re ruining their privacy,” he says. “I don’t think their personal liberty is in danger.” The techniques he has pioneered “have been used to put murderers away – and I agree with that”.

Through the work of Prof Nixon and Dr John Carter at Southampton University, it is becoming increasingly easy for authorities to monitor us all. Research at the School of Electronics and Computer Science – funded by the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence among others – means technology can spot and identify criminals in surveillance footage with increasing accuracy.

Last year the Government’s first Surveillance Commissioner, Andrew Rennison, said there was a worrying lack of regulation over how CCTV is used, and that human rights laws may be broken in the process. But Prof Nixon rejects this.

Read the rest of this feature article from The Independent here

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