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Comments by YACCS

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Friday, August 22, 2003
Still, more successful than the Devil Rays.
A couple of years ago, Tampa famously rolled out surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology at the Super Bowl. They've finally, tacitly, admitted failure:
Two years after Tampa became the nation's first city to use facial-recognition software to search for wanted criminals, officials are dropping the program.

It led to zero arrests.
Perhaps if they had focused the cameras on the state legislature?

In any case, I say that they "tacitly" admitted it, because they didn't really admit it at all:
Durkin emphasized Tuesday that the trial run with Face-It didn't cost the city any money. But even so, he said, its use likely benefited the city.

"Something that's intangible is how many wanted persons avoided (Ybor City) because the cameras were there," he said. "That's something we may never calculate."
And the best part of not calculating it is that the city is free to pretend that it provided a benefit, without fear of contradiction. Except, if it "likely benefited the city," then why are they giving it up?

I shouldn't complain overly; it's good to see that government officials are willing to experiment with new approaches, and it's also good to see that they're willing to abandon those experiments if they prove to be failures. We should count our blessings that this didn't go the way of the typical failed government program, as seems to be happening in nearby Pinellas County:
Meanwhile, facial-recognition technology has been in use at the airport, jail and jail visitation center in Pinellas County for more than a year, and at the courthouse since late April. And Pinellas sheriff's officials have no plans to discard it, although they have not attributed any arrests to the technology.

Pinellas sheriff's Lt. James Main, who heads the program for Sheriff Everett Rice, said Rice's office is confident the technology works well and is a useful security tool, despite the lack of arrests.

"We don't have any plans to change anything here," Main said. "The fact that we aren't making arrests doesn't mean the technology isn't working."

He said Tampa's use of the technology is far different than in Pinellas. In Tampa, the technology isn't used in a controlled environment like the inside of a well-lighted courthouse, where people can be asked to take off hats and glasses.
Hmm. With that stubborn denial of reality, anybody want to bet that there's a federal grant somewhere out there which is paying for Pinellas' use of the technology?

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