back to article Arrested development: Cops dump Amazon's facial-recognition API after struggling to make the thing work properly

Orlando cops have given up using Amazon’s controversial cloud-based facial recognition to monitor CCTV cameras dotted around the Florida city – after a nightmare year of technical breakdowns. The decision came after officers attempted and failed to tap into Amazon’s Rekognition API, which they hoped would automatically flag up …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Australia, automated facial matching for international flights was said to be working! No problems. All Good. But no actual details on numbers of false positives/negatives. Somebody is lying.

    1. SMITCH79

      I wouldn't think so. Airports have a closed system and the input variables are more tightly controlled and better suited to the purpose.

      The lie for me is "Sure we can make it work with legacy CCTV" - If that question was asked in the first place,

      I take heart from this, I was becoming of the opinion that its introduction was purely as a red herring for the reason of widening probable cause even further.

      Or is it . . . . . .

  2. man_iii

    Flag of Innonence

    If AI tells someone is a crook do thy get shot or is there benefit of doubt?? How do u prevent bad impressions or false flagged operations???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flag of Innonence

      In the USA it depends on the colour of their skin.

      This might change if Amazon can find a way to link someone's face with the contents of their wallet. Don;t want to go shooting rich people now do they?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon out... Who's next?

    I'm sure that Facebook would live to have a go. They probably have 40% of Orlando's population already identified in their humungous database. I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to get the remainder plus all those visitors Lovely-jubbly.

    OTOH, what could go wrong eh?

    That's another place I won't be visiting any time soon but theme parks are not the natural haunt for us Grumpy Old Sods.

    1. n10cities

      Re: Amazon out... Who's next?

      You won't be missing much. Too much heat, humidity, squealing rugrats wearing Mickey Ears and stupid drivers

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Amazon out... Who's next?

      Facebook have an advantage. They probably have good images on file and they know where the phone is so a lot of "maybe" matches can be linked to where the signed-in Facebook phone app is currently located.

      Is it Joe Bloggs? Maybe. Is Joe Bloggs phone in the area of that camera? Yayyyy. Positive match!!

  4. Da Weezil

    " Congressfolk were mistakenly identified as crooks in the experiment;"

    Not sure I would call identifying politicians as crooks a total fail

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Footage often just showed the tops of people’s heads

    Obviously it was not just the software that was too advanced for the police.

    It's not unusual for the ambition of a police force to exceed its competence, but I can't help feeling this may be seen as an opportunity for Amazon to launch white-label law-enforcement services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Footage often just showed the tops of people’s heads

      "but I can't help feeling this may be seen as an opportunity for Amazon to launch white-label law-enforcement services."

      Is that a range of clothing that prevents you getting shot in America?

    2. Richocet

      Re: Footage often just showed the tops of people’s heads

      "too advanced for the police to handle" LOL

      Like driverless cars, this technology doesn't actually work. What a ballsy move to point the finger of blame at the police.

      I like the PR comment: "We believe this, we believe that". Believing things is like saying "I can imagine that this is possible/works" - has no bearing on reality.

  6. trevorde


    "Congressfolk were mistakenly identified as crooks in the experiment;"

    Crooks were mistakenly identified as congressfolk in the experiment;

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Correction

      "Congressfolk were mistakenly identified as crooks in the experiment"

      Seems the deliverable that dealt with fraud, corruption, and blackmail was working perfectly.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, to sum it up

    For starters, there's the problem of incompatible equipment. Then there's the bandwidth issues, which is kind of surprising. The there's the random disconnects, which, given the bandwidth issues, is understandable. Finally, you have a backend that the police force is not qualified to run, which is hardly surprising (I doubt they have many statisticians in uniform).

    In other words, the whole thing was a fiasco from the start. It's nice to know that Rekognition can apparently only handle one camera at a time, and is very picky on the camera it can connect with. Good.

    All in all, I am quite pleased with the results of this project.

  8. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Bandwidth? Surprising?

    Not if one is used to "broadband" in the U.S., where "up to 50Mbps" means "8, on a good day, with a tailwind, for a while, if you are lucky"

    Also.. When did the habit of using 'K' for 'C' in identifiers of "bad guys" get re-purposed to allegedly "good guys"? Next you will be telling me that 'X' and 'Q' have wide use outside the tech namespace (well, ignoring Quaker, although shooting breakfast cereal from guns was probably considered a tech breakthrough back in the day)

  9. a handle

    Bandwidth not fully catered for.

    Incompatible cameras.

    Cameras pointing at tops of heads.

    Cameras too high.


    Sounds to me like not enough resourcing, missing basic rules, and teeth to make it happen.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Cameras pointing at tops of heads.

      Next week: Amazon announces hair-print database.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no AWS for me

    I "migrated" to AWS as "it would be cheaper" than good old 1and1 that started charging me for nonsense

    Three months later (I've been busy elsewhere) I haven't yet figured out which of the zillion on-off switches I have missed at AWS. It's almost like trying to fix Ruby on Rails, actually maybe worse. Unintuitive? Yeah. Nothing looks like setting up a LAMPS stack in your own machine, lots of very weird settings. And that "AWS strongly recommends not making anything public" warning? of course no website works if your bucket is private.


    Anonymous because oh so embarrassed.

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