The Police in Orlando made a new contract with Amazon to experiment its debatable face recognition software, taking a new step to strengthen the security in the city amongst civil privacy and liberties concerns.

The software is known as Rekognition, the city will experiment with it for nine months utilizing the eight surveillance cameras integrated throughout the city – three in downtown, four at OPD’s HQs and one at the public recreation center.

Earlier this year, Orlando showed Reckognition for the first time for an analogous, six-month period (till the end of June). It allured extensive disapproval from the civil rights groups that claimed that tech could be utilized to culturally profile citizens, target minority people or monitor protestors. John Mina, Chief of Orlando Police, has denied these fears, claiming that once released, Rekognition will only be utilized to assist arrest people with the arrest warrants.

In July, Orlando introduced plans for starting the second phase, but a formal agreement hadn’t been made.

“A statement of work was finalized today to further evaluate Amazon’s facial recognition technology,” Cassandra Lafser, a city spokeswoman, wrote in an email on 18th October. “The second phase pilot will include the same parameters and controls utilized in the first pilot,” she said.

Reckognition can be utilized to systematically recognize and locate people of interest in the range of the city’s network of about 180 IRIS surveillance cameras. For the experiment, city officers claim that only eight will be used and they “will not be used in an investigative capacity,” only the policemen who are willing to be test subjects will be studied.

Utilizing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) charged software, OPD wishes officers to be capable of uploading an accused’s mugshot to Amazon’s data platform based on cloud, which will be scanned by Rekognition along with real-time surveillance feeds and then mobile alerts will be sent when Rekognition finds a match.

“If the technology works, [we] intend to use it for those worst-case scenarios, for the most violent people out there – your sexual predators, people who have committed heinous crimes, murder, and that sort of thing, and as well to locate missing persons and missing juveniles,” Chief Mina said in August.

Orlando didn’t reveal any results of the first six-month test program of Rekognition. Lafser said that rules and regulations for facial recognition tech would not be created before the second phase of testing.
“Following the pilot, if the City of Orlando Police Department decides to ultimately implement official use of the technology, City staff would explore procurement and develop a policy governing the technology,” she said.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon is the only other police department in the country that is openly using Amazon Rekognition. But they are not utilizing it for real-time investigation.

“Our own state laws and our own policies we’ve written prohibit us from such a use,” Deputy Jeff Talbot, a WCSO spokesperson, claimed. “We don’t think it should be used for mass surveillance. We feel like we’ve struck a great balance. We’re honoring people’s civil liberties here.”