The BOSS Project: Recent Advances in Facial Scanning Adam C. Champion
BOSS Project • New York Times reported (Aug. 21, 2013)  • Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) tested Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) • Goal: identify persons of interest in crowd • E.g., terrorism suspects, criminals at large events • Customers: U.S. police departments • Originally: military (detect persons with IEDs)
Technical Challenges • BOSS faced the following challenges: • Distinguish person of interest in crowd at a distance • Various lighting conditions • Harder to scan a crowd than to scan an individual
BOSS Development • Electronic Warfare Associates. Inc. developed BOSS with U. of Louisville scientist • Two towers with infrared cameras, distance sensors • Compute 3D model of person’s face • Model compared with photos in databases … Criminal?
BOSS Test Results • DHS tested BOSS in a Washington state arena six times • 30 volunteers’ faces compared to 1000 criminals’ faces • Conclusion: police departments should not buy BOSS • Facial recognition accuracy degrades at larger distances • Takes ≥ 30 s to process images
Privacy Implications • The Times story heavily mentions privacy • Currently, there are no “rules” about how a BOSS-like system should be used • Could track people’s movements in public places • Civil libertarians argue for policy establishment • Public has accepted some surveillance in public places like airports
Thank You Questions and Comments?
References • C. Savage, “Facial Scanning is Making Gains in Surveillance”, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/us/facial-scanning-is-making-gains-in-surveillance.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0