A handgun, pepper spray, and handcuffs – these are just a few items policemen and women carry with them on an everyday basis. And believe it or not, there may soon come a time where you can add the iPhone to that list.
Police in Brockton, Massachusetts are currently testing new iPhone software which uses facial recognition, iris biometrics, and fingerprint identification to help officers quickly identify potential suspects.
The MORIS software (Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System) was developed by Sean Mullin, president and CEO of BI2 Technologies, and lest you have any illusions about downloading the app from iTunes, be aware that these aren’t regular off the shelf devices. Rather, each device is modified with a case that provides longer battery life, and the software alone checks in at $1500. The Brockton PD is funding the testing via federal grants from the Department of Justice and National Sheriff Association.
All told, there’s about $200,000 in grant money earmarked for 28 police departments and 14 sheriff departments throughout Massachusetts. The high-tech devices will first be given to the Brockton PD’s gang unit until more of that precious grant money trickles in.
So here’s how the app works.
Officers use the iPhone to take a photo of a suspect, then upload it into a secure network where it’s subsequently analyzed, and within a matter of seconds, relays the suspect’s identity and criminal rap sheet back to the officer. The software works by capturing the unique features contained in the human iris.
Naturally, the app only comes in handy when a suspect has previously been registered in a pertinent database. Police Chief William Conlon concedes that the database isn’t terribly large at the moment, but notes that it’s growing everyday. It’s currently being added to on a consistent basis at the department’s booking desk when prisoners are processed.
And for anyone worried about about possible civil liberty violations, Conlan stresses that police will not be snapping photos haphazardly and running them against criminal databases. On the contrary, the app will only be used when a police officer has probable cause to stop a suspect in the first place.
“Well this is something that officers can actually access when they’re out on the road, so they don’t have to rely on bringing somebody back here to figure out who they are… We’re not gonna just randomly stop people randomly on the street and ask to take their picture,” said Conlan.
The first version of MORIS will only work on the iPhone, but will eventually become available on other smartphones.
via Wicked Local