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Home Office promotes plan for facial matching API


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Home Office has launched an effort to promote the future use of an application programming interface (API) for facial matching by police forces.

Its Home Office Biometrics (HOB) unit is managing the Strategic Facial Matching Project to deliver the infrastructure, software and data migration to create a new national facial matching service to be used in law enforcement.

It has published a prior information notice on plans for an online workshop on 17 July that will provide police forces’ in-house IT teams and tech industry suppliers with an update on technical integration plans.

HOB already runs a Biometrics Services Gateway (BSG) for the storage and search of biometrics. This has an API for the mobile fingerprint check service that is currently used by 35 police forces and Immigration Enforcement to integrate the service with their own mobile platforms and apps.

It is now looking to extend this into facial matching with a minimum viable product and either a new API or adaptions to the existing one for the BSG.

Exploiting a capability

“Mobile biometric services could be extended into the modality of face, exploiting the ubiquitous imaging capability now omnipresent in smartphones, together with apps and infrastructure which is already integrated with the BSG,” the notice says.

“This use case of facial search is referred to by policing as Operator Initiated Facial Recognition (OIFR) and is currently amongst the prioritised requirements of policing to maximise the benefits of facial recognition technology.”

The move follows the unveiling of plans for a national facial recognition database in October of last year, and the recent announcement of £55.5 million in funding for police forces to deploy the technology.



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