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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.

Cases: 338977

Reported Deaths: 5723
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion46131870
Lake29183469
Allen19572307
Elkhart18074236
St. Joseph17808239
Hamilton14364172
Vanderburgh10546128
Tippecanoe948130
Porter890690
Johnson7132171
Hendricks6820162
Vigo643592
Monroe572452
Madison5506124
Clark547678
Delaware5252104
LaPorte501997
Kosciusko484042
Howard382978
Bartholomew355165
Warrick350073
Wayne345886
Floyd338078
Marshall320446
Cass311531
Grant302550
Hancock294357
Noble274147
Boone267655
Henry266139
Dubois253732
Jackson242034
Dearborn241131
Morgan236543
Gibson207329
Shelby204159
Knox198021
DeKalb193435
Clinton192922
Lawrence191349
Wabash183922
Miami181417
Adams180023
Daviess167545
Fayette159834
Jasper159113
Montgomery158329
Steuben158116
Harrison155824
Ripley155721
LaGrange152232
Whitley149715
Huntington141810
White140323
Decatur140044
Putnam138129
Wells137030
Clay135125
Randolph134022
Jefferson133416
Posey130318
Scott119421
Greene112253
Sullivan106717
Jay106414
Jennings98714
Starke98025
Spencer9268
Fulton90119
Fountain8778
Perry87321
Washington8487
Franklin77027
Carroll75313
Orange73128
Vermillion6927
Owen6699
Parke6466
Tipton64027
Rush6078
Blackford59613
Newton59412
Pike54920
Pulaski45016
Benton3943
Martin3866
Brown3815
Crawford3251
Union3012
Switzerland2735
Warren2663
Ohio2457
Unassigned0267

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