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Indiana city considering cameras to help in contact tracing

A northwestern Indiana city wants to install a facial recognition video network camera system downtown in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Posted: Oct 3, 2020 4:05 PM

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A northwestern Indiana city wants to install a facial recognition video network camera system downtown in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The step comes as state health officials on Friday added 13 more COVID-19 deaths to the state’s pandemic toll.

The newly recorded deaths raise the state’s death toll to 3,656, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, since the state’s first such death was reported on March 15, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Most of the new deaths happened Wednesday or Thursday. That is an increase of 90 deaths in the past week.

Crown Point media director Adam Graper said the analytical cameras can identify when people aren’t social distancing through a heat map that shows the concentration of individuals, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported Friday.

Crown Point is waiting on proposals for the project.

Graper said during a Board of Works meeting that the city has reevaluated how it uses technology to interact with the community.

“Since March, we found some weak points on where we are,” he said.

Along with heat maps to identify large groups of people, Graper said the city would be able to put in custom crowd notifications, which would alert officials if there are too many people in a specific area.

The project would include 24 analytical cameras with 4K resolution. They are portable and can be moved to other parts of the city.

Since they can identify the lack of social distancing, produce heat maps and utilize facial recognition for contact tracing, the project should be eligible for reimbursement under federal coronavirus relief funding, Graper said.

Crown Point Mayor David Uran said the cameras are very detailed.

“There’s other applications that are going to be beneficial to the city of Crown Point, but our main focus on this right now is to be able to comply with the COVID pandemic that’s out there; put us in a better situation to be aware of what’s taking place," he added.

But facial recognition could be hit or miss if people are wearing masks to protect from the COVID-19 virus.

A preliminary study published by a U.S. agency this summer found that even the best commercial facial recognition systems have error rates as high as 50% when trying to identify masked faces.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology says it is launching an investigation to better understand how facial recognition performs on covered faces. Its preliminary study examined only those algorithms created before the pandemic, but its next step is to look at how accuracy could improve as commercial providers adapt their technology to an era when so many people are wearing masks.

Studies also have shown that current face-recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies more likely to err when identifying people with darker skin.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 164581

Reported Deaths: 4143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26055792
Lake14436358
St. Joseph9606168
Elkhart9271138
Allen8647231
Hamilton6400115
Vanderburgh617162
Tippecanoe396715
Porter347550
Hendricks3418134
Monroe335638
Johnson3286130
Delaware311575
Clark306263
Vigo275340
Madison250896
LaPorte239261
Cass229724
Warrick205065
Kosciusko201127
Floyd187468
Howard169466
Bartholomew147958
Marshall147428
Dubois146426
Wayne142031
Grant133539
Henry133030
Boone129150
Hancock124744
Noble122935
Jackson121018
Dearborn103128
Morgan100340
Lawrence96838
Gibson94412
Clinton92416
Daviess92334
Shelby90632
LaGrange82815
Knox81810
Harrison81024
Posey7767
Putnam77616
Fayette76719
DeKalb76011
Jasper6885
Miami6715
Steuben6608
Montgomery63122
White62316
Greene57838
Adams5607
Scott55413
Decatur52839
Ripley4838
Whitley4836
Clay4617
Sullivan45714
Wells45611
Huntington4455
Starke4438
Wabash4439
Orange42425
Spencer4176
Randolph39210
Jennings38713
Washington3873
Franklin38325
Fulton3785
Perry36914
Jefferson3655
Pike35718
Carroll34313
Jay3386
Fountain3293
Tipton28423
Vermillion2721
Parke2564
Rush2464
Blackford2394
Newton23711
Owen2151
Martin2050
Pulaski1783
Crawford1631
Brown1473
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1130
Switzerland980
Warren911
Unassigned0236

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