The US Army is hoping to use facial recognition technology to monitor children in its Child Development Centers (CDCs). The organization does not yet have a partner for the project, but is planning to move forward with a trial at the Fort Jackson Scales Avenue CDC in South Carolina in February of 2021.
The project will run under the guidance of the Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center-Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), which recently released a pre-solicitation synopsis that detailed the goals of the proposed scheme. In that regard, the ERDC-CERL is searching for a contractor who can deliver a facial recognition algorithm with real-time monitoring capabilities. However, that contractor would not need to provide hardware, since the ERDC-CERL is hoping to integrate the solution into existing CDC infrastructure.
The official solicitation period is expected to begin on or around December 4, while the project itself will have a projected budget of $30 million. The initiative is part of a broader digital transformation effort from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment to “improve the quality of life of service members and their families.” It is unclear how biometric surveillance will advance those goals, especially in the context of child development, which could raise privacy concerns moving forward.
Any potential contractor will need to obtain an authority to operate (ATO) if they want to use Army cameras and other equipment, though doing so is not the only way forward. A company that does not get an ATO will have the opportunity to install its own hardware to support the trial. Either way, the winning company will need to demonstrate that it can protect sensitive surveillance data in accordance with the Army and the Pentagon’s cybersecurity standards.
The trial will run for 12 months after the contract is awarded, and will culminate with a business case report that will inform future developments. The Army recently revealed that it will be using FitBits to track the spread of COVID-19, while the Department of Defense is searching for an integrator to help the organization move its ABIS platform to the cloud.
November 11, 2020 – by Eric Weiss