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In Istanbul, Cameras To Recognize 15,000 Faces/sec. 221

An anonymous reader writes "Istanbul's popular (and crowded) Istiklal shopping, cafe, and restaurant street is being outfitted with 64 wirelessly controlled, tamper-proof face-recognition cameras attached to a computer system capable of scanning 15,000 faces per second in a moving crowd for a positive match. The link from Samanyolu, badly translated by Google, states that 3 cameras are in place so far and that if trials are successful, this will mark the first time such a system, previously used by Scotland Yard and normally reserved for indoor security use, will be put to use in a public outdoor setting. It also notes that each camera controlled by the system is capable of 'locking onto' the faces of known criminals and pickpockets detected in the crowd and 'tracking' their movements for up to 300 meters before the next, closer placed camera takes over." Hit the link for more of this reader's background on the growing electronic encroachment on privacy in this city, which will be the European Capital of Culture in 2010, causing him to ask, "Is the historic city of Istanbul turning into the new London?"

While the article doesn't state it outright, it would appear likely that the outdoor face recognition system, if "successful," will be expanded to other crowded areas of Istanbul as well, which has already seen a dazzling increase in the number of installed plain-vanilla (non face-recognizing) CCTV cameras in recent years. This comes after Istanbul's two signature Bosphorus bridges have become passable only by vehicles with a mandatory vehicle windscreen-mounted electronic pass, subway and bus tickets in the city have gone electronic, vote tallying in municipal and national elections has become fully computerized, and future plans for mandatory biometric ID cards for all Turkish citizens have been announced by the government.

The ruling "moderate Islamist" AKP party appears to frame these and other e-government initiatives as "keeping step with the times," "keeping step with other major world cities," and "making living safer, easier and more efficient through the targeted use of electronic technology." Its secular critics, on the other hand, argue that everything and everyone under the sun is rapidly becoming electronically trackable thanks to the omnipresence of mobile phones and gratuitous overuse of these installed electronic systems, and that these systems will, eventually, form a dense surveillance grid that could turn daily life for Turks (and secular Turks critical of the current government in particular) into living in a veritable Big Brother House.
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In Istanbul, Cameras To Recognize 15,000 Faces/sec.

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  • Oh really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by master5o1 ( 1068594 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:34PM (#28078981) Homepage
    But can there be 15000 people in it's view within each second?
  • Say what again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@exc[ ].com ['ite' in gap]> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:44PM (#28079043) Journal

    ...64 wirelessly controlled, tamper-proof face-recognition cameras...

    Sorry, but that's an oxymoron. It may be tamper-resistant (and some wireless devices have pretty good tamper resistance), but nothing that can be controlled wirelessly is tamper proof. Especially not when even the entity that has legitimate access (presumably the Turkish government) is entirely trustworthy to begin with.

  • by aunt_jamima_sr ( 668433 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:44PM (#28079045)
    It's inevitable that face-recognition technology, combined with the myriad of other technologies that already allow individuals to be tracked in their daily lives, will become pervasive enough to provide a "dense surveillance grid" to anybody with access to a big enough dataset. The era of anonymous living is quickly coming to an end. We'd be better off devising technological counter-measures than trying to hold back this tide with laws.
  • by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:50PM (#28079077) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes technologies inevitably, if deployed, will be abused. Some technologies are too powerful to be in anybody's hands. Power corrupts, and all that.
  • Re:afaik (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:02PM (#28079127)

      - not as closed curcuit as it says...
      - subject to misuse for entirely different matters

  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:07PM (#28079161) add to their massive data mining efforts. I can't even imagine the possibilities.

    If they do, I hope for our sake it turns out better than their translations.

    the competent authorities will be transferred to safety in the system

    Somebody set us up the bomb.

    the street that 15 thousand people in the face of a second degree in the search by scanning the person is detected and the system of the images with image is brought to the screen.

    Main screen turn on.

    That the people at the top to lock the camera by a third during the 300 meters, is to follow.

    You have no chance to survive make your time.

    To all corners of the country should not be.

    For great justice.

  • Just normal sunglasses would do the trick nicely, not to mention traditional Muslim head wear.
  • Re:Big Brother (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frozentier ( 1542099 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:20PM (#28079239)
    Actually, this is exactly what "Big Brother" is all about... just one of the many rungs in the ladder.
  • Which is officially illegal in the Turkey.

    You know... They reformed...

    At least before the fundamentalist retards got strong again.

    Compare this to your own history. ^^

  • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:41PM (#28079337) Homepage
    What's scary is that even with excellent success rates, that's going to be a lot of misfires. 15,000 faces/sec is 54 million faces an hour. At 'five nines' accuracy (which is far beyond what facial recognition can do as yet) that's still 540 false IDs per hour. It'd really suck to be one of those 540.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:43PM (#28079347) Homepage

    0.6% seems like a good ballpark figure for false positives.This research paper [] claims 0.6%. This article [] says "Commercial facial recognition technology ... had a 1 percent false positive rate."

    15000 faces/sec * 0.6% false positives = 90 false positives per second.

    How many cops does it take to ask 90 people per second to come to the police station to answer a few questions? How many busses does it take to take 90 people per second to the police station?

    Once they get there, if it takes five minutes to look at each suspect's papers, run them through the computer, and clear them, that police station waiting room will need to be big enough to hold 27,000 people.

  • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:54PM (#28079393)

    You're assuming every second that it rescans the crowd and does 15,000 new recognitions. More likely it scans the crowd constantly, and adds new faces to its database and continues to refine images on existing faces, tracking their movements to handle the interface between one camera and another.

  • Re:Real experiment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @10:35PM (#28079559)

    it will be intressting to see if it really leads to an 1984 big brother state, or will actually lead to superiour crime fighting.

    The problem is, most real crimes are rare and occur mostly in uninhabited or lower-class areas. This isn't going to stop murders, rape, major theft, etc. all the while eroding privacy. The summary mentions pickpocketing, pickpocketing is hardly observable in a crowd of people, I doubt these cameras would be able to track down the crime itself. Then there is the problem of false matches. A lot of people look remarkably alike in facial structure but look different in other areas that may or may not be tracked by this camera. For example, skin, eye, hair, etc. can often be the difference between a false match or a correct one. Machines though either rely on this too much (hair can easily be changed making it useless) or not enough (two people looking totally different with side-by-side comparisons but may have same facial structure), then some things can change in different lighting environments, etc.

  • Re:afaik (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @10:42PM (#28079615) Journal

    The point is to catch criminals.

    What good is catching them if your penal system releases them back into society without reforming them? Most developed countries don't seem to have a problem catching criminals. The problem seems to be keeping them behind bars and/or showing them the error of their ways so that they don't commit more crimes upon their release.

    I'm skeptical that a fancy camera system is going to change this underlying problem.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @10:45PM (#28079627)

    Wow! I am amazed at the level of your intellectual capacity.

    Well, at least I know how to put proper quotes in my post, so people won't have to copy and paste the address in the browser.

    I recommend you start some research in a field where you seem to be sorely lacking []

    As for the "venom at people" thing, sorry if I hurt your Turkish sensibilities, but all citizens of an empire [] must learn to cope with that [], even if the empire hasn't existed for nearly a century.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @11:23PM (#28079845)

    Assuming there is actually 15000 people in front of the camera every sec, the people won't be on camera for a second and then suddenly 15000 new people appear... So it may take 20 seconds for you to walk on and then off camera, this is more than 20 times the system can check your face, probably from multiple angles. Both of your sources were comparing single images and came up with an 0.6%-1% false positive. Now run that 20 times and the chance lowers.

    If the system did happen to get some false positives, why not use a slower and more accurate method to check again? If it still gives a false positive pass it on to a few monitors with people manually comparing the images.

    Now, I wonder how it responds to people wearing hockey/ski masks...

  • 1984 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wlt ( 1367531 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @11:43PM (#28079931)

    paired together with computer-based/automated facial recognition, all this monitoring is going to make life really hard for dissidents eventually. at some point they're really going to be forced to live/hide out in the sewers, if they're going to remain in built-up areas.

    considering Orwell was British (and the widespread deployment of CCTVs seems to have begun there), it makes sense that resistance to this pervasive monitoring began there, but even with these (generally fringe) groups, it's still happening. You've got to wonder if the reason the totalitarian regimes we've had crumble, is because the technology wasn't available yet. What happens when it IS available?

  • Re:afaik (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @12:34AM (#28080117)

    It means the police no longer have to hope that they randomly pull over [criminal] or that someone calls a tip line.

    I don't think either of those is how regular police investigations work.

    You put these cameras in high traffice areas and criminals will walk past them and get flagged. Or at least that's how it works in ideal situations.

    It's a question of false positives vs false negatives. If this has any false positives, it's nearly useless because it will effectively end up being a denial of service attack on police investigations.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @01:36AM (#28080339)

    I am not and have never been a citizen of the Ottoman Empire

    You would have to be at least 91 years old today to have been one.

    So, why should I have to endure HATE PROPAGANDA and walk around with a target painted on my back because I am Turkish (happy now, you finally got one thing right)?

    Because you are Turkish. You just glossed over the link I posted [], but it's a real thing. The empire that once ruled over the land where you were born tried to impose its ways over other lands, during a period of over 500 years. People hate empires, even if those empires only exist in their minds []

    the HATE MOVIE I am talking about does not take place in the Ottoman Empire.

    What you call a "hate" movie is what other people would call a "controversial" film, which is what its author [] specializes in. BTW, he won an Oscar for that what you call a "hate" movie.

    Anyhow, your reaction seems typical of your region/religion. You cannot accept criticism. You jump to conclusions about anyone who says anything that could be remotely interpreted as critical to your views.

    There are many [] films about harsh conditions on people who are prisoners in jails in the USA, yet no one calls them "hate" films. These films were not made to make anyone hate the USA, or do you think Clint Eastwood [] hates America?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:32AM (#28081041)

    I doubt anyone is angry at technology. Not even at the people that invented it (let's be sensible here, being angry at something that has no conscience is kinda moot). A software that's able to recognize 15k people a second is kinda cool.

    We are afraid of people abusing it, just like you say. We're afraid because we know people will abuse it. The question is not "if", the question is "when". And that when seems to be now already.

    There simply is no way that this won't be abused. It's just way too tempting. Especially if you're a politician afraid of your subjects. Like, well, almost all people in power these days.

    You might notice that the camera craze started shortly after the police riots in Paris. It wasn't even after the 9/11 attacks. Nobody threw cams around for "terrorist spotting" back then. Politicians are afraid of domestic riots by people who feel like they have nothing to lose and everything to gain because society cast them out. This kind of people started two quite successful revolutions in history (1789 and 1917, if I'm not mistaken), and, thinking about it, they were two of the few "successful" revolutions. Not in the long run, but it sure costed some powerful people head and life.

    I can see why politicians and governments are afraid of their subjects.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin