The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has started using a system that will allow it to identify criminals throughbiometric recognition.
The RCMP's ID-2000 system recognises a person from physical traits such as fingerprint, iris, voice, gait or facial features.
The technology was developed by Vancouver-based software company Imagis Technologies, which began creating computer programs for law enforcement agencies five years ago.
The ID-2000 system identifies 250 features of the face between the eyebrow and the upper-lip, such as the curvature of the eye sockets, bridge of the nose, or location of the cheek bones.
It does not identify features that can be changed, for example, facial hair or eye colour.
Video cameras, set up in city centres, airports etc, are linked to a PC in RCMP offices. These take digital photographs which are then encoded into the software.
From here images are sent to a national database. Seven seconds later, 15 matches are given in order, starting with the most similar. These can be used to make composite sketches. Still photographs can also be scanned into a computer and matched.
Currently, the technology is being used by RCMP officers across Canada and has been deployed at Toronto international airport. It has been adopted by 32 police departments in California, and in casinos in Las Vegas. Groupe Bull will be introducing ID-2000 to Europe shortly.