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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: 724214

Reported Deaths: 13363
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion989071736
Lake53172962
Allen40223675
Hamilton35354408
St. Joseph35270550
Elkhart28228437
Tippecanoe22297217
Vanderburgh22231396
Porter18560304
Johnson17832376
Hendricks17098313
Clark12897191
Madison12519339
Vigo12379244
Monroe11811168
LaPorte11691210
Delaware10571185
Howard9823215
Kosciusko9347117
Hancock8204139
Bartholomew8036155
Warrick7754155
Floyd7630176
Wayne7002198
Grant6986174
Boone6652101
Morgan6529139
Dubois6139117
Marshall5954111
Dearborn577177
Cass5769105
Henry5671102
Noble555783
Jackson499672
Shelby488196
Lawrence4470120
Gibson433791
Harrison432972
Clinton426353
DeKalb423284
Montgomery423088
Whitley392739
Huntington386380
Steuben381057
Miami379165
Knox370990
Jasper361347
Putnam357760
Wabash352478
Adams340354
Ripley338370
Jefferson328481
White312254
Daviess294399
Wells290281
Decatur282992
Fayette278362
Greene276085
Posey270733
Scott264453
LaGrange263870
Clay258945
Randolph239581
Washington239131
Spencer230431
Jennings228848
Starke213252
Fountain211846
Sullivan210442
Owen195856
Fulton194240
Jay190429
Carroll187820
Perry182537
Orange181854
Rush172625
Vermillion167643
Franklin167235
Tipton161945
Parke145416
Blackford134332
Pike132634
Pulaski115945
Newton106734
Brown101441
Crawford99014
Benton98114
Martin87415
Warren80515
Switzerland7808
Union70610
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

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