Previously, Politiforum has reported on how the London police recruit so-called “super recognizers”, who have extraordinary skills in recognizing faces they’ve seen before. This way, they can recognize offenders in forensic footage.
One of the tools used by the London Metropolitan Police is the Norwegian software FotoWare. In a few words, the software is an archive where users can upload content such as pictures, video and documents, make them searchable and organize them in folders, and it facilitates sharing of evidence between police staff, lawyers and courts.
In Norway, FotoWare is used by the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) and Oslo Police District, and a total of 50 police districts are using the solution worldwide. Australian, French, German, Icelandic and Israeli police services are among the users. In Britain, Scotland Yard and London Metropolitan Police are among the 35 national districts that are using FotoWare.
At the London Met, super recognizers spend time browsing pictures in the archive. They remember faces, and when these show up in other contexts, they can be tied to previous cases and events, explains Faisal Mahmood of Medialogix, who have integrated the solution for British police for 13 years.
The software is delivered with a so-called API, which means developers can build applications and new software based on the Norwegian solution.
“This has allowed us to build modules based on FotoWare, at first for the NHS, and now for the police. Other police districts in the UK have integrated their systems with the solution, making image search in the database available through other systems. Our hope is that in future, we’ll be able to build modules that help produce automatic hits on images based on artificial intelligence,” Mahmood explains.
These days the Norwegian company, with its 36 employees, is releasing new functionality that enables police to make visual evidence more understandable, for instance in courts.
“While in the past you’d send pictures by regular mail to defense attorneys and the courts, the solution enables users to electronically share content and control access. Now we’re also introducing a feature that allows users to add annotations to pictures, comment on them and generate PDF output of this that can be presented to the jury in a courtroom, for example,” says Olav Andreas Frenning at FotoWare.
By adding annotations to pictures, one can describe to for example defense lawyers, judges or other police staff what they’re really seeing in the picture. These days FotoWare is bringing together police from around the world to discuss how the solution can be used and developed further.
“Inviting police from Norway, Iceland, Germany and the UK gives users a chance to learn from each other, and it provides us with valuable feedback on how to focus our development in the time to come. We can see that drone video footage and 360 degree photos are getting increasingly widespread, so these are things we need to consider for future versions of our solution,” says FotoWare CEO Anne Gretland.