Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wisconsin OJA Offers Grant Program for Small Agencies

Many departments across the country are faced with budget shortfalls and cuts in every facet of public safety. Need a facial recognition tool or a mugshot system? Unfortunately local, county and state budgets in many cases just don't allow the purchase of these types of necessities (and they are becoming necessities). This is true particularly for smaller departments that don't have the economies of scale or capital budgets to purchase new equipment.

The OJA in Wisconsin realizes this shortfall between funding sources depending on the size of the department, and created four years ago the Smaller Police Agency Crime Initiative grant funding program. The SPACI program as it is commonly known, provides smaller departments - typically with 20 or fewer sworn officers - with grant opportunities up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. THis past year, 106 agencies applied for over $850,000 in assistance and $300,000 was awarded to Wisconsin departments. This is an important equalizer for smaller departments as criminals, realizing that smaller departments don't have teh same resources as larger metropolitan areas, are beginning to set up shop in smaller, rural communities.

I hope more State and Federal programs come to same conclusion as well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fingerprinting Systems One Would Never Debate

Fingerprinting Systems have been at the crux of debate issues over the past several months. Many feel the use of a finger or thumbprint in order to classify our children as 'present' or 'absent' in homeroom, or having returned their library book, or as payment for their school lunch is just that - debatable.

But would anyone ever say that assembling an ID packet of our children's information, fingerprints included, to have on hand in case, Lord help us, we ever needed to supply police and local authorities with them, is debatable?

Not us. That is why we believe whole-heartedly that this technology, that has become so mainstreamed, should be utilized to the best of its capacities.  And when you get right down to it, keeping our children safe in today's world of unknowns and even worse is a top priority.

Hunter Systems Group recently began the SAFEChild Initiative, using its state-of-the-art biometric fingerprinting system to create portable ID cards for parents and caregivers to carry with them.  The card has an up-to-date photo, fingerprints, and the child's physical attributes. In addition, Hunter Systems Group provides a USB drive with all of the same information, making quick dissemination of the data possible in the case of an Amber Alert situation.  Police tell us that time is of the utmost importance in these scenarios.

It's a hard fact to wrap our heads around, but more than 800,000 children are reported missing each year. And we know that it is better to be prepared with information and especially an up-to-date photograph in order to expedite a public announcement for help. Working within the public safety and law enforcement industry for the past 15 years, we have been able to capitalize on our proven technologies and apply them to a very specific and crucial part of public safety by introducing this new initiative: the wellbeing of our children.

Our products and systems, such as facial recognition technologies and biometric ID platforms have been used to identify and apprehend wrongdoers for those years - with great success. Now we aim to apply these capabilities to an even more rewarding market segment- the young and the innocent.

Our system is available for lease or purchase. Not that you could ever put a figure on the peace of mind it offers.  Contact us today or leave a comment below to find out more.


Amber Alert image courtesy of


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Strength and Determination Rather Than Cutting-Edge Products Aided in the Search for Survivors in Japan

They are foregoing their body worn video and facial recognition products for this deployment. Law enforcement professionals from all around the US and world have traveled to disaster-ravaged Japan offering their help. And while they will not be using any cutting-edge biometric products that they are used to using here; their hands, strength and determination will be put more to the test than with any law enforcement product they have previously used.

Immediately after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit on March 11 near the coast of Honshu, Japan, relief efforts began. More than 70 nations offered their help in rebuilding the devastated region. But first, there were survivors to be rescued and people to be accounted for.

Twelve days later relief and recovery efforts are still underway. Help from near and far
has enabled the search and rescue to fan out widely among the many towns that are utterly unrecognizable. In the midst of these teams are several task force teams from the United States and abroad. California and Virgina elite search and rescue groups, as well as teams from France, Britain and Germany are all apart of the efforts - searching through rubble hoping to find survivors.

We offer our support to these elite groups of rescue professionals, as well as our sincere empathy and condolences to those affected by this tragedy. We are proud to be a part of the public safety community of which the special task forces initiated.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fingerprint Systems in Schools at Debate Again


We've posted before about the fingerprint scanning of children in order to pay for their school lunches in Ohio Schools.  We've also posted about the prevalence of biometric tracking of children in UK schools for everything from attendance to paying for lunches.  It seems this trend is gaining momentum rather than losing to its opposes, as we have seen a dramatic rise in the fingerprinting of children across the UK.
But one wonders if this rise is due in part to a new amendment to the Freedom Bill  requiring parental consent to fingerprint their children, that has been proposed.  As of now, school in the UK do not need the parent's consent in order to fingerprint school children for such activities as borrowing library books, attendance and cashless lunches.
Many are pleased about the proposal, which gives parents the right to choose whether or not they wish their children to be enrolled in biometric programs.  And that is perhaps why it has been reported that "school are falling all over themselves" to get the prints taken in time, before the proposed bill is enacted.
What do you think? Should children be fingerprinted for the course of their daily school activities, or is this an example of advanced technology being used for the wrong purposes? Leave your comment below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Facial Recognition Proposed for Australian Sports Venues

Real-time biometric facial recognition is being proposed in the Australian state of Victoria.  Senior police officers have labeled its soccer fans as the most violent in sports.  The proposition of scanning all those who enter the stadiums at the turnstiles is a very welcome idea.

A camera would record every face, compare it to a database of known troublemakers, and immediately alert the gatekeeper, enabling him to deny entrance to the person in question.  This assumes that the person has been photographed previously, perhaps while being escorted out of a stadium, after initiating a fight or some sort of disorderly conduct.

Because of advancements in biometric capabilities, private facial recognition systems are becoming more mainstream and accessible than ever before.  Many companies have introduced their own products, some with more records and better accuracy than others.  It is important to enlist a credible provider, one with experience in security, law enforcement and public safety expertise in order to ensure the most applicable solution.

Not only would sports arenas benefit from this technology, but so would airports, concert venues, nightclubs and other places where large amounts of people congregate.  The potential is great to ensure safety and swift remediation of potential security issues, with such facial recognition systems.  We believe that more and more venues will begin to employ this state of the art tool, as its popularity has expoded recently.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

While Body Worn Video Expands to More Police Departments, Some Concerns Still Arise

Body worn video for police is garnering more and more press lately.  Departments in Texas, California, and Louisiana and many others, are either in the process of testing body worn cameras, or have implemented several of them in the past few months alone.  These cameras are either attached to officers' ears, worn around the head, or clipped to their uniforms, and are supposed to be a better, more reliable way of gathering evidence than dashboard cameras.
Some of the same debate issues keep coming up in most instances, when it comes to these devices:
Extra equipment may be uncomfortable for the officer. Extremely light-weight and durable cameras make the burden of wearing the equipment as small as possible.  The hope is that the officers will see the absolute benefit of using these devices, and that will counter the "nuisance" of the added bulk. That is also why departments should look to cameras designed by a company with actual police officer experience.  Companies like these know the rigors and challenges that police officers go through.  Ergonomically-designed, head-molding cameras offer the lightest weight and most comfortable options when it comes to body-worn cameras.  (In comparison, some companies' cameras are clipped to the uniform or attached to the ear). And once the officer starts using these types of cameras, most agree that the ease of use and reliability of evidence wins over the "extra" gear.  Officers work in extreme situations every day -- they are used to making the most out of any condition, for the good of their job.
Privacy concerns. These concerns have been raised over and over again.  Yet when complaints surface about overuse of force or misconduct, it comes down to one person's word against another.  The public seems to be overcoming this concern and realizing that the cameras keep the police, as well as the public, accountable for their actions.  Cameras that record into a DVR for playback, rather than submit a live feed, combat these concerns we feel.  It's not like Big Brother is watching our every move. Situations that need to be, are recorded and reviewed for helping in actual crime-related cases.  Plus, officers cannot access the recordings of these most useful body worn video systems.  Instead, the footage is automatically uploaded onto the main system, password-protected, and are unable to be edited after the fact.  GPS tracking appears on all video as well, to show exact location and time of each incident.
Image Quality. Some departments that have tested certain brands of body worn video have discovered fuzzy low-light recording, unsteady footage when an officer is running, and even loss of an earpiece or uniform-clipped piece.  For these reasons, and because exacting recordings are necessary in every environment, it is crucial that departments find the most reliable option.  That is why the camera should be high-definition, equally good in day/night conditions and be securely fitted to the officer.  This is when the headset type shows its value (as it is not as likely to become dislodged, like an ear- or a lapel-clipped camera).  The best solutions also have a back-up camera in the unlikely event that the primary camera does become compromised.  Again, expert developers with real police experience have produced the most effective, useful and reliable camera in the body-worn video market.
So while these concerns are valid - especially if police departments are using an inferior solution, most feel that the age of body worn video is among us, and is a necessary component of public - and police - safety.  And departments are finding that the mere awareness of a body worn camera influences those around it, calming them down.  And isn't that what we hope for in police work? But, when a calm day - or night - on the job, isn't on the docket, it's nice to know a reliable evidence gathering system exists, whatever the scene.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Smart ID Badges To Be Rolled Out to Massachusetts Police Departments

Police officers across the state of Massachusetts will likely be getting standardized police badges this year.  A bill has been proposed to supply police departments with high-tech badging identification to reduce the occurrence of police officer impersonations. At the end of 2010, the bill was passed by the Senate, and would make Massachusetts the first state nationwide to adopt such a practice.

It’s unusual that there hasn’t been movement toward this initiative prior to now.  It seems like a no-brainer to want to easily identify police officers from those posing as one.  If this standardization was around when I was a teenage driver, I doubt my parents would have felt the need to tell me over and over again to “never open the window” to a police officer in an unmarked car, if by chance they would pull me over. Instead, I was instructed to say through the glass, “I’ll follow you to the nearest police station.”

Luckily I never had to resort to that unorthodox approach, as I was a stellar teenage driver.  Yet the upcoming generations could surely get some mileage out of this new system.  And that’s just one example in a myriad of uses of how standardized ID badges would improve civilian relations and strengthen cooperation.

Much like the Massachusetts-issued driver license, all police ID badges will be uniform, stating who may carry them, how long they are valid, when the must be renewed, and what to do with them when they are no longer required (i.e. retirement, expiration). 

The new statewide badges (that will be used at the state and local levels, as well as for the Transportation Police) will certainly make it easier for us to know who we are dealing with.  However, there needs to be sufficient communication to the public about this new program, so that we know what to be looking for.  It’s all well and good for the new cards to be issued, but how is the public to know what the card should in fact look like?

We can only assume that because the state has been so forward-thinking and first-to-market in this program in the first place, Massachusetts will continue along these lines and make sure everyone is in the know about this extremely valuable initiative.


Hunter Systems Group provides public safety and security tools for police departments, governmental agencies, educational institutions and companies worldwide.  Our products include smart ID badging cameras, mug shot capture systems, fingerprint and facial recognition, and other biometric applications.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fingerprinting Systems for School Lunches Makes Some Queasy

The Ohio County Board of Education just approved a pilot fingerprinting system for use in an elementary school for cafeteria efficiency.  They say the fingerprinting system will allow for a faster, more accurate way of tracking school lunch accounts. With a quick scan of a student's finger, the system accesses that student's account and deducts the lunch fee all in less than a second.
One has to wonder, is this a necessary way to combat the sharing/borrowing/stealing of students' lunch money?  The Board of Education says the fingerprint records will be stored with the same level of security of all other school records, and that they will be destroyed after graduation.  But, again, is this the best use for what seems to be a surplus of available finances?  And what happened to getting to know each student and being able to personally identify them, rather than relying on a fingerprint scanner to distinguish identification. 
Read the entire article here and let us know what you think about this issue below, by leaving a comment.  Do the privacy concerns have you objecting to this proposal, too? Or the dehumanizing of our students? Or maybe the cost concerns of this undertaking, which are slated to spread to other school functions and throughout high schools in the area as well? Or do you feel it is just a natural application of a growing-in-popularity technology? We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fingerprint Systems Meet Scrutiny in UK Schools

Fingerprint systems for school children? Have we gone a little too Big-Brother? That's what people are asking in the UK, where biometric identification of school children is on the rise.  Already more than a quarter of Scotland students are being identified this way - having to use thumbprints to access restrooms, acquire library books, obtain lunch and even check in their attendance throughout the day.  And even more schools have the capability and are yet to start using it.
The use of tracking mechanisms is poised to become mainstream within the British education system -- that is, as long as the critics don't get their way.  And there are plenty.  Parents and legislators alike are arguing that this unnecessary breach of minors' privacies is not only dehumanizing, but is also in violation of EU laws.

Salford University Researcher Dr Emmeline Taylor found that in 2010, 3,500 schools in the UK — one in seven — are using fingerprint technology.  It is evidently gaining acceptance even though the dissenters are expressly against the practice.


It is not so offensive as the RFID chips that are being used in school children’s ID cards in Texas and California (people have likened this to the tracking of cattle or warehouse inventory).  Yet still, there seems to be no logical reason why children as young as 4 need to be exposed to thinking that the government will be tracking their every move throughout their lives.


Many feel that just because the technology and efficiencies exist, there is no reason to replace human involvement and physical monitoring (not to mention ‘teaching’) of our children with them.  Are the schools so surplused with budget money that this was the expenditure of choice? I am sure we could all think of a few other, more education-centric ways to spend this.


What do you think? Leave us a comment below  telling us how you feel about the biometric tracking of school children.