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SÃO PAULO, Brazil – In a packed subway station in downtown São Paulo, military police officers scan the crowd in order to identify and arrest two soccer fans who initiated a confrontation with fans of a rival team during a World Cup semifinal game last year.
The apprehension of the suspects was made possible by the officers’ use of special glasses equipped with a biometric camera. The equipment allows police to identify suspects from a distance between 50 meters (54 yards) and 20 kilometers (12.5 miles).
This scenario is merely a training exercise, but it’s the type of situation that could occur during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to the São Paulo Military Police (PM).
In preparation for circumstances that will require the rapid identification of suspects in large crowds, the PM is testing so-called “Robocop glasses.”
When an officer looks in a specific direction, the equipment compares each face against the 700,000 headshots stored in the PM’s database. The information is transmitted by Bluetooth to an external hard drive that is carried in the pocket of the officer using the equipment. Communication between the components, which takes three seconds, can also occur through wireless Internet or 3G networks.
Under the standard system, military police officers verify information regarding suspects through radio communication with the dispatch center. New information is added to the database only when officers file incident reports.
The use of the glasses and the rapid consultation with the PM’s database allow police to decide whether to call for backup before approaching the suspect.
“If a suspect were identified in the stadium, the officer would be able to determine the correct moment to act, in accordance with the degree of risk to the public at the event,” says Maj. Pavani Agostini, a member of the PM’s shock troops and supervisor of the eyeglass implementation program.
Long distance security
The Israeli company Ex-Sight, which developed the technology, began operating in Brazil last year.
In Israel, biometric glasses are used in border control operations.
In England, the system is used to monitor soccer hooligans, as it helps police maintain a registry of violent fans.
Equipped with biometric readers, the special glasses tested by the São Paulo Military Police allow officers to decide whether to act or request backup, without having to approach suspects. The glasses have a field of vision between 50 meters (54 yards) and 20 kilometers (12.5 miles). (Courtesy of the Public Relations Office of the São Paulo Military Police)
“Nowadays, a Brazilian police officer sees a suspect in the street, and tomorrow he goes on vacation or he retires and that information is lost,” says Arnaldo Maciel, director of Ex-Sight in Latin America. “With biometrics, that suspect is entered into the system.”
Officials in the states of Acre, Mato Grosso and Rondônia also are considering introducing the glasses to their police departments.
Law enforcement agencies in neighboring countries, such as Peru and Argentina, are also interested in using the glasses, Maciel says.
“The software enhances that which already exists, which is the information,” Maciel adds.
The glasses have been undergoing tests in São Paulo for about a month at soccer matches, concerts and training exercises.
“If the tests go well, we will recommend the immediate acquisition [of the biometric readers] for installation in the more than 270 cameras that the Military Police has in São Paulo, in our patrol cars, and also for use by officers who are patrolling on foot,” Agostini says.
The technology developed by Ex-Sight also can help locate missing persons. In São Paulo state alone, there are more than 40,000 missing persons, according to the state’s public safety department.
Agostini expects that the equipment will be adopted by the São Paulo PM prior to the 2014 World Cup.
Technology has a variety of uses
Source: Arnaldo Maciel, director of Ex-Sight in Latin America