Vice News revealed a software company is hoping to help cops stop the "problems" of "degradation of a city's culture" by handing over facial recognition software targeting homeless people.
According to the report, Odin Intelligence can use the faces of the homeless to stop "poor hygiene" and "unchecked predatory behavior."
“Police use ODIN facial recognition to identify even non-verbal or intoxicated individuals,” says a brochure from the surveillance firm.
ODIN's website says the "Homeless Management Information System," or HMIS, is partnering with the International Association of Chiefs of Police with glowing endorsements from local and federal law enforcement.
It was Tech Inquiry's Jack Poulson who found the brochure, sending it to Motherboard.
Police would get information collected on the individual including their birth date, contacts, warrant status, if there's a probation or parole officer connected the person, arrest history and any labels that others have added like "assaultive" or "needles."
The company also says that homeless people can use their smartphones to download an app to connect with shelters and reserve a bed. It could also use their GPS location.
“First and foremost it is a tech-laden scheme to ‘solve’ a problem where we already know what works. What unhoused people need most is stable, permanent housing. The brochure claims that the system will help people ‘transcend hardship,’ but the money used to pay for this technology would be infinitely more useful if it were directed towards simply giving people housing," said Chris Gilliard, a research fellow with the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center after being given the brochure.
“Some version of the word 'crime' appears in the document six times—which helps fuel a narrative about the extent to which the vulnerable and marginalized are the problem rather than the systemic issues which created the situation,” he added. “I'm also thinking about the ways that folks ingested into this system will become fodder for other kinds of data schemes—I think for instance about the way Google contractors were scanning unhoused people to help accumulate data for a facial recognition project. Certainly this is a lower level concern, but it's worth thinking about the variety of ways that vulnerable populations will potentially be exploited by the technology.”