Category: FYI

Tech Company Offers Schools Facial Recognition Technology

RealNetworks, the Seattle company best known for pioneering streaming media in the early days of the web, is deploying a controversial new product. The company said it will offer a new facial recognition technology, called SAFR, for free to K-12 schools to help upgrade their on-site security systems.

SAFR can be used with the same cameras that traditional surveillance systems to recognize students, staff, and people visiting schools. RealNetworks said that in addition to security, the tool can also help with record-keeping and “campus monitoring.” The technology is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows.

“SAFR from RealNetworks is highly accurate facial recognition software powered by artificial intelligence,” the company explains on the SAFR site. “It works with existing IP cameras and readily available hardware to match faces in real-time. Schools can stay focused and better analyze potential threats such as expelled students, and those who pose a threat from within and outside the school.”

“We feel that’s going to enhance the security of schools but also lead to more convenience, a simple way of entering a school campus,” RealNetworks Chief Technology Officer Reza Rassool explained.

The ACLU has been vocal in its criticism of facial recognition technology and said there are big red flags with this program.

“I think often it’s put out there by well-intentioned people but the impacts are often felt by vulnerable communities,” said Shankar Narayan, the technology and liberty project director with the ACLU or Washington.

Developers said they understand those fears but said individual districts control the data. Narayan worries a system like this might keep some parents from coming to campus “what are these systems recording, who gets the data for what purpose is that data going to be used?”

Narayan said undocumented immigrants or parents with a criminal history might be hesitant to come to their child’s school.

RealNetworks said they understand that some people might be a little skittish with the technology and that’s why they believe the program should be voluntary.

Another murder in Tampa; police still fear serial killer is on the loose

Tampa, FL- According to local police, a body was found at North Nebraska Avenue and East Merry Street early Tuesday morning. Police received reports that shots were fired around 5 a.m., according to Tampa Police spokesperson Steven Hegarty.

Police responded to the area within one minute and found a man shot to death in the middle of Nebraska Ave. The victim has been identified as Ronald Felton, 60.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said the victim was crossing Nebraska Avenue when someone came up behind him and shot him. Dugan described the possible suspect as a black man with a thin build who was dressed in all black and wearing a baseball cap.

There has been a large police response to this incident due to the three recent murders in the same area. Police are searching the area on foot, searching yards with police dogs and going door-to-door. Police helicopters also are in the area.

Officers also are asking any residents who may have seen anything in the area overnight or have home surveillance cameras to contact them at (813) 231-6130.

“We need everyone’s cooperation,” Dugan said. “The neighborhood has been very engaged and extremely helpful (during the investigation). We need to talk to everyone.”

“We don’t know if this is related to the other shootings,” Hegarty said. “But we’re treating it as if it is.”

Police are asking neighbors to remain in their homes.

Three people were shot and killed in the Seminole Heights area within 10 days in October. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed on Oct. 9. Two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was killed in a vacant lot. Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed Oct. 19.

Police are still following leads, but have no suspects in these cases.

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