Though the tool is dubbed IDLE, the cops using it will be anything but.
IDLE – short for Integrated Digital Law Enforcement – is a face recognition tool from Ottawa-based BlueBear Network.
Using the technology, three Canadian police forces participating in a real world test were able to share mug shot databases securely over the Internet, the company said yesterday.
BlueBear claims those results demonstrate their (IDLE) solution is ready for the international policing primetime as it speeds up identification of suspects.
BlueBear, in partnership with Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., announced Tuesday, the completion of a two-year, Canadian pilot project to provide law enforcement agencies with real-time biometric and text database search capabilities, a joint press release stated.
“A biometric is a physical characteristic,” said BlueBear CEO, Andrew Brewin. “The biometric is actually the person’s face, or could be his tattoo, or iris pattern — all biometrics are a permanent distinguishing feature.”
Brewin said the more distinctive the biometric, the better it is for identifying people. Technology factors in biometrics by assigning an electronic code and using digital templates to compare feature similarities.
Launched in June 2003, the pilot project with the Canadian police sought to link officers in Chatham-Kent, Windsor, and York Region, all in Ontario, through a secure, distributed network environment, delivering face recognition search engine technology, to better track and identify criminal suspects.
“IDLE is a system that allows police and other criminal justice organizations to identify people of interest,” said Brewin. “It uses the range of biometrics to identify (such people). It then shares information with other law enforcement organizations.”
Brewin said “people of interest” enter the database in a number of ways, including: being suspects in crimes, appearing on “wanted” or “missing persons” lists.
“Records already in existence can also be used as [material for] searches pending security requirements,” Brewin said. “A Driver’s License database could be used to identify the victim of a crime.” A unique feature of the BlueBear solution is that it can recognize the context of the request and determine how much that person is allowed to know and access, said Brewin.
Rather than shift data from three law enforcement agencies to a central source, BlueBear says the project provided a gateway to access mug shots and text databases quickly and easily.
Brewin said his company’s solution tool eliminates the need for traditional central databases in law enforcement.
“We use a gateway so you don’t need to move the (biometric) from somebody else’s database to your database to make it accessible,” Brewin said. “We know that as soon as somebody has been booked by one city’s police force, that photograph is available for search by any detective in any other force connected to the network.” …as soon as somebody has been booked by one city’s police force, that photograph is available for search by any detective in any other force connected to the network.Andrew Brewin>Text BlueBear said the system runs distributed, networked search technology, on Sun’s Sun Fire V20z servers running Solaris and Linux operating systems.
“We recognized early that BlueBear hand breakaway technology,” said Norman LeCouvie, executive director, Global Government Partners and Solutions, Sun Microsystems of Canada. “We invested in (BlueBear) by putting in the technology on our nickel – both the systems at the police stations and the network guardian (that maintains 24/7 uptime).”
LeCouvie said it was built so that 3,000 persons – not just the three test participants – could communicate and share online. He said in the case of the United States the technology could accommodate their more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies.
“We have architected it for (our clients),” said LeCouvie. “Those are things our partners often don’t have the experience to do. They have the brainchild, but where innovation really makes it happen is when two companies come together as we have here.”
BlueBear chose to run the pilot on a Sun Fire V20z for its flexibility and scalability, which allowed the system to evolve as needed throughout the duration of the project, while keeping costs in line. Additionally, the stability of the V20z ensured uptime for police relying on the BlueBear system 24/7, according to the company.
The project was made possible through the ongoing support of the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC). The CPRC is a partnership of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Research Council of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Following the successful conclusion of the pilot, BlueBear said it would make the Integrated IDLE system available to law enforcement and justice agencies worldwide.