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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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  • by Chmcginn ( 201645 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:53PM (#28079091) Journal

    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.

    Any time you see 'X'-proof in a description, you know they're bullshitting you. There's never been a lock made that couldn't be picked or bypassed in some way.

    The real question is whether it's worth the hassle - hasn't London's experiences shown that CCTV cameras either get broken or people just move into the blind spot to do something they don't want seen?

  • Re:Say what again? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@exc[ ].com ['ite' in gap]> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:05PM (#28079149) Journal

    It's not an oxymoron, moron.

    Hrm, I've heard that before. Let's go look it up. Hey, look!

    1657, from Gk. oxymoron, noun use of neut. of oxymoros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp" (see acrid) + moros "stupid." Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms." (emphasis added)

    So, yes, it is an oxymoron, moron. Even if it is used as a rhetorical device (which is, after all, what it is to start with).

  • Sunnah says: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:39PM (#28079329) Homepage Journal

    Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 9:38.2, Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd As-Sa'idi

    A man peeped through a hole in the door of Allah's Apostle's house and at that time, Allah's Apostle had a Midri (an iron comb or bar) with which he was rubbing his head. So when Allah's Apostle saw him, he said (to him), "If I had been sure that you were looking at me (through the door), I would have poked your eye with this (sharp iron bar)." Allah's Apostle added, "The asking for permission to enter has been enjoined so that one may not look unlawfully (at what there is in the house without the permission of its people)."

    Hadith - Mishkat, Narrated AbuDharr Tirmidhi transmitted it, saying this is a gharib (weak chain of narration) tradition

    Allah's Messenger said, "If anyone removes a curtain and looks into a house before receiving permission and sees anything in these which should not be seen, he has committed an offence which it is not lawful for him to commit. If a man confronted him when he looked in and put out his eye, I should not blame him. But if a man passes a door which has no curtain and is not shut and looks in, he has committed no sin, for the sin pertains only to the people inside."

    Though those stories clearly refer to invading the privacy of one house, scholars universally extend to any prying.

  • Re:afaik (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @10:36PM (#28079571) Journal

    - doesn't reduce serious crimes like assault
        - doesn't reduce, but shift crime scenes to other areas

    The point of automated face scanning and license plate scanning technologies is not to reduce crime.
    The point is to catch criminals.

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

  • by dimeglio ( 456244 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @10:52PM (#28079659)

    The infrared option will allow it to see right through the beard and glasses. Not to mention the X ray option which will allow to scan through just about everything and match teeth to dental records.

    If Hubble can detect what some million-light years away sun is made of, I'm pretty sure a face within a kilometre should be no problem.

    Too bad prisons are so full already. Otherwise we could use such a system.

  • Neither sunglasses nor traditional head wear is illegal in Turkey. There is an embarrassing issue of ban on turban for students (when they are inside public schools or universities) and government officers (while they are working.) But one can wear anything they want on streets, in public places and also in majority of government offices. The military has an funny twist on the ban that wearing turbans (by civilians, inside military offices) is banned while traditional head wear is not.
  • Re:Oh really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:07PM (#28087663)

    It seems TFA specifically states it tracks the crowd and hands off suspect individuals from one camera's "grid" (my term, not theirs) to another's.

    Crowd tracking is an easier problem than facial recognition. Given sufficient frame rates, a variety of assumptions can be made even using grainy black and white footage that allow tracking an individual through a mass. If this system can do facial recognition at a distance, it most certainly is capable of performing crowd tracking, which is really just "object tracking."

Loose bits sink chips.