- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Arizona Department of Transportation has signed a deal with a global developer of facial-recognition technology that aims to give the state extra power in its fight against fraud.

Japan-based NEC Corporation of America said Monday it will begin providing biometric solutions to the department in hopes of improving the process for issuing state-sanctioned credentials.

Through its NeoFace facial-recognition software, NEC Corp. says transportation department officials will be able to instantly query a remote database existing in the cloud that contains roughly 16 million digital images, including about 7.7 million driver’s license and identification photos.

Along with another biometric tool, Reveal, state agents can “perform the search of photographic images and compare against the driver license and identification card records that are contained within the state database,” the company said.

By opening up access to the detail-rich database, agents are expected to shrink the number of instances in which cards are issued based on bogus personal information. The department began using a similar facial-recognition system earlier this year and was informed of around 1,600 alerts between February and July — an 860 percent increase in fraud detection, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.



“This technology allows us to take a proactive approach to protecting people’s identities and stopping fraud,” said Terry Conner, the department’s assistant director.

Last year, the department passed new rules that prohibit previously authorized third-party offices from issuing credentials as part of a campaign to keep IDs away from individuals looking to scam the state.

Transportation offices in more than three-dozen states currently use facial-recognition programs to catch scammers who use bogus details when applying for identification cards. Arizona had already been utilizing a $2.7 million software suite, and last month said that it had gone from spotting roughly 33 cases of potential fraud a month to around 320, a number likely to soon soar once the transportation department accesses the system that says it can scan 6.2 million images per second.

Earlier this month, NEC Corp. said that an update to its biometric tech had made its system 28 percent more reliable than before and produced eight times fewer errors than the next highest performing algorithm reviewed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles began using facial recognition in 2010 and has credited the technology with helping authorities make roughly 3,500 arrests. CBS News reported last week that New York and New Jersey had become the first two states in the country to share drivers license photos to combat identity theft and fraud.

At least 39 states have offices that use facial-recognition technology for law enforcement purposes. Geoff Slagle, the director of identity management for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, told Pew Charitable Trusts recently that biometric data might soon be shared among other agencies across the United States.

“You have an opportunity, using this technology, to find people who are trying to skirt the system,” Mr. Slagle said last month. “It has really helped to identify fraudsters.”

NEC Corp. announced in July that it had been awarded a deal with police in Surat, India, that will link the company’s biometric system with the surveillance infrastructure overseen by local law enforcement.

The New York Police Department told NBC News last month that it has used its own biometric systems to identify 1,700 suspects and make 900 arrests. That database doesn’t link up with the state’s DMV records, however, and the FBI said recently that it’s own federal system containing millions of biometric evidence “is not a repository for Department of Motor Vehicle photographs or surveillance photos” and contains only criminal mug shots.

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