NYC not happy with its first on-road facial recognition tech trial

April 10, 2019

New York City played host to the state's first attempt at using facial recognition camera trials on its bridges and tunnels, but the trial didn't go quite according to plan.

In fact, it failed miserably. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that it had obtained a Metropolitan Transportation Authority email that declared the technology didn't identify a single person driving on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Per the email, no face was identifiable within "acceptable parameters."

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Early testing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee returned 80 percent accuracy, but the technology has a difficult time capturing and identifying faces when the subject in question is traveling at highway speeds. The MTA said the trials will continue on the bridge and tunnels despite the poor first outing for the technology.

The facial recognition technology is part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Crossings Project, which focused on giving New York City's infrastructure a high-tech facelift. The facial recognition tech was also imagined to replace cameras that identify license plates at toll plazas. Instead, the tech would automatically bill an EZ Pass account. If a driver did not have one, he or she would receive a bill in the mail. The project also called for reinforcements to bridges to better protect them from earthquakes and new LED lights to brighten up bridges and tunnels.

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The facial recognition tech was also intended to help New York quickly identify potential terrorists behind the wheel.

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