Boston police chief: facial recognition tech didn't help find bombing suspects

Amid a huge volume of digital evidence, one agent watched same video 400 times.
Ars Technica
Apr. 22, 2013

While the whole country is relieved that this past week's Boston Marathon bombing ordeal and subsequent lockdown of the city is finally over, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told the Washington Post that the department's facial recognition system "did not identify" the two bombing suspects.

"The technology came up empty even though both Tsarnaevs' images exist in official databases: Dzhokhar had a Massachusetts driver's license; the brothers had legally immigrated; and Tamerlan had been the subject of some FBI investigation," the Post reported on Saturday.

Facial recognition systems can have limited utility when a grainy, low-resolution image captured at a distance from a cellphone camera or surveillance video is compared with a known, high-quality image. Meanwhile, the FBI is expected to release a large-scale facial recognition apparatus "next year for members of the Western Identification Network, a consortium of police agencies in California and eight other Western states," according to the San Jose Mercury News.

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