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JNET & PennDOT Facial Recognition Integration


David Naisby
JNET Executive Director
5 Technology Park
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 214-7461

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Project Initiated: September 2012

Project Completed: December 2012

Executive Summary
The Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) is an integrated portal that provides
authorized users with access to public safety and criminal justice information from
federal, state and local sources. Over 39,000 municipal, county, state and federal
justice professionals use JNET to access critical information and securely conduct
investigations. JNET provides role-based access to over 35 distinct applications. In
addition, JNET uses a service oriented architecture (SOA) model to broker the
exchange of over 600 million messages annually between business partners. The JNET
infrastructure connects all 67 Pennsylvania counties, 38 state agencies, and 37 federal
law enforcement agencies.
JNET has deployed ground-breaking technology in the field of facial recognition. The
JNET Facial Recognition System (JFRS) allows law enforcement investigators to
compare images from a variety of sources, including surveillance or security video and
social media sites, against a statewide criminal database containing 3.5 million
A major limitation of the legacy JFRS system was that it only allowed comparison of
images for previously arrested criminal offenders. At the request of the law enforcement
community, JNET partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
(PennDOT) to enable JFRS searches against the statewide repository of 36 million
drivers license and identification photo images. Leveraging JNETs accessibility and
state-of-the-art facial recognition system with PennDOTs vast photo database has
provided immediate and exponential value for all law enforcement professionals in
Through this solution, investigators now have the ability to submit a photograph or
image into JFRS, and compare it against approximately 40 million images using three
unique search algorithms.
This project was a collaborative effort between the Office of Administration, JNET,
PennDOT, and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. This effort has reduced
costs, saved time, and strengthened public safety across the state.

3. Business Problem and Solution Description

The ability to identify an unknown suspect or witness is paramount in the prosecution
and prevention of crime. To support this ability, JNET deployed a facial recognition
system (JFRS) that enables trained and authorized investigators to upload images for
comparison against 3.5 million criminal booking photographs. JFRS provides a host of
imaging tools that allow photographs to be cropped, rotated or manipulated to assist
with comparison. Furthermore, JFRS employs two unique search algorithm
technologies. Photographs submitted into JFRS by investigators are automatically
analyzed by both search algorithms, ensuring that law enforcement benefits from
multiple technologies. With JFRS deployed on JNET, the system can be made available
to any law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania. Law enforcement professionals from
more than 500 agencies have completed training and have access to JFRS.
JFRS is able to identify similarities between the unknown person or suspect using the
unique personal measurements of an individuals facial features. These measurements
are compared to offender photographs captured at the time of criminal booking within
the statewide database known as the Commonwealth Photo Imaging Network (CPIN).
During the booking process, a photograph is captured in CPIN and a facial plate is
automatically created from the individuals picture. Photographs stored in CPIN are
made available to law enforcement through a web-based application on JNET called
Pennsylvania has over 3.5 million criminal booking photographs for comparison in
JFRS. Unfortunately, this represents only a fraction of the approximately 13 million
residents in the state. Without a larger database for comparison, law enforcement was
limited in its ability to investigate unknown criminal suspects or suspects who have
never been arrested or booked in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), which is responsible for
drivers license and identification cards issued in Pennsylvania, maintains a database of
over 36 million photographs. PennDOT, concerned with the issuance of duplicate or
fraudulent identifications, maintains its own internal facial recognition solution. However,
without the network infrastructure and connectivity of JNET, the PennDOT facial
recognition solution was only available to limited users in the Pennsylvania State Police
(PSP) and Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (AG).

The challenge facing Pennsylvania law enforcement was how to integrate two distinct
facial recognition systems with contrasting strengths. JNET had an award-winning dual
algorithm technology that was readily available to all law enforcement in the
commonwealth but it could only match against suspects with a prior arrest history.
PennDOT had a facial recognition solution with limited availability but could match
against Pennsylvanias extensive drivers license and identification card photo
Recognizing the value of providing drivers license and identification images to JFRS
investigators, the JNET Steering Committee charged JNET and PennDOT with
architecting a solution that would augment law enforcements investigative abilities while
respecting policy, privacy and fiscal considerations.
A workgroup was formed between the two agencies that included technical, business
and vendor representation. The group immediately went to work assessing agency
system capabilities, drafting requirements and - most importantly reviewing privacy
and security policy considerations.
Early in the process, it became clear that federal and state policies limited the ability to
share photographs between the two systems. This meant that faceplates from one
system could not be copied or shared with the other system. To ensure that these
policy requirements were met, the team decided to use JNETs SOA infrastructure to
develop a set of web services that would facilitate the loosely coupled integration of the
systems. This approach proved to be simple, efficient, cost-effective and secure.
When uploading the photograph of an unknown suspect into JFRS, the system
automatically invokes a web service to PennDOT. This web service submits the facial
plates of the unknown suspect or probe image to PennDOT for comparison against its
license and identification photo database. As potential matches are identified,
PennDOT then invokes a web service to return the potential matching results for use in
JFRS. In the meantime, JFRS processes the suspect probe image against previously
known criminal photos using its two internal search algorithms.

As a result, JFRS now leverages three unique facial recognition search algorithms.
More importantly, investigators now have more than 10 times the potential images to
compare against when investigating crimes.
The integration solution had minimal impact to existing JFRS users. By using web
services, JNET was able to integrate results from PennDOT directly into the JFRS
interface. There was no need for users to learn a new system and trained investigators
were simply provided a third set of image results to view.
Training documentation was updated to reflect the new PennDOT results and was
made available to the existing JFRS users. The integration of the two systems was so
seamless that JNET has not received a single support call for the new interface.
The entire project took less than six months to conceptualize, design and implement.
The core project team included subject matter experts and quality assurance staff from
JNET, development staff from each of the facial recognition providers and project
management from PennDOT. Policy, application support, and management
representatives from both PennDOT and JNET participated as needed. PennDOT
images were made available to JFRS users on December 18, 2012. This project cost
the commonwealth $75,000 to develop, test and implement, and was made available at
no cost to JNETs user community.
4. Significance
This project benefits law enforcement by providing a single facial recognition solution
that uses three distinct search algorithms to query against two very large repositories
that collectively contain nearly 40 million images. With JFRS available through JNET,
this enterprise solution is available at no cost to any municipal, county, state or federal
law enforcement agency in the commonwealth. Pennsylvania is not aware of any other
facial recognition platform in the United States that uses this technology set, or one that
is available to such a large and diverse group of users.
The use of web services to bridge the gap between PennDOT and JFRS allowed both
agencies to maintain the ownership and control of their data while meeting federal and
state policies designed to protect the privacy and security of the public.

Developing consensus and buy-in from stakeholders to complete this effort was
relatively easy. The project clearly aligned with several administration and JNET goals:

Develop and maintain strategic partnerships.

Facilitate efficient government operations.
Provide a contemporary gateway for the delivery of public safety and criminal
justice data among municipal, county, state, and federal consumers.
Provide extraordinary customer service to the public, agency business partners
and stakeholders, and the user community.

Finally, any effort that increases the effectiveness and abilities of criminal investigators
has a direct positive impact on public safety. Furthermore, improved public safety is a
benefit that can be enjoyed and appreciated by all members of the public.
5. Benefits of the Project
The most immediate benefit of this project is in the area of public safety. With a minimal
investment by the commonwealth, criminal investigators from any jurisdiction in
Pennsylvania now have access to 10 times as many potential matches as they did
before this project was implemented. Feedback from users of the system has been
unanimously positive with over 400 new users trained to access the system in 2013
alone. The value of adding an additional search algorithm with millions of records with
no need for new training or additional costs cannot be overstated.
Recently, users have reported using the JFRS application on mobile devices to identify
unknown individuals during traffic stops; a direct benefit of providing drivers license
photographs through JFRS.
The project is an example of government at its best: implementing solutions using
industry standards and best practices for the benefit of all citizens:

Strong governance allowed the agencies the authority to pursue a solution

without delay or unnecessary roadblocks.
Use of the JNET Private Key Infrastructure (PKI) and role-based identity
management solution ensured that data and services were accessed and shared
As an enterprise-wide shared service, the PennDOT integration into JFRS
provides immediate, no-cost benefits to users.

In addition, through the adoption of interoperable and standards-based service

development practices such as Global Reference Architecture (GRA) and the National
Information Exchange Model (NIEM), the commonwealth has ensured that the services
developed for this interface can be reused and shared when the need arises.
In summary, Pennsylvania has developed an enterprise solution that merged the
functionality and data sets from two disparate facial recognition systems at minimal
costs with no impact to users. This dramatically advanced public safety in the
commonwealth by augmenting law enforcements ability to search and identify unknown
suspects, regardless of agency size, technology disposition or budget. All of this was
accomplished without impacting the integrity, ownership or control of the agency data or
applications driving the solution while protecting citizens privacy.