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UK Government uses Churches to improve internet connections in rural areas

UK Government uses Churches to improve internet connections in rural areas

UK residents experience a reasonable standard of living when compared to most, especially when you consider access to technology. However, in some more rural areas of England many residents are without a decent broadband or mobile connection. This may not seem like a major issue, but it often leaves rural residents feeling isolated and at a disadvantage when compared to their suburban counterparts.

The UK government are looking to solve this issue by using historic architecture to enhance broadband and mobile signals. Partnering with the Church of England, the UK government have been granted permission to use tall structures such as towers and church spires to support a range of technologies including aerials, satellite dishes, fibre cables and wireless transmitters.

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Integrating these buildings into the future digital infrastructure not only supports residents by providing them with reliable internet and mobile connections, it also provides a sure-fire reason to keep these historic buildings alive - with many religious sites and structures in England facing decay and disuse with the decline of regular church-goers. Any installation that occurs must be within strict guidelines to ensure the building’s structure and appearance aren’t impacted too heavily, much to the relief of those wanted to preserve those idyllic village vibes.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, broadband and mobile services are already being delivered from over 120 sites throughout the UK and we could be seeing many more in future.

How important is your internet connection to you? Could you live without it? Let us know!

Source: The Verge

UK Police Trialling Fingerprint Scanners to Catch Criminals

UK Police Trialling Fingerprint Scanners to Catch Criminals

With news of China Police using facial recognition technology in sunglasses to help catch criminals, it seems that the UK Police are following suit. Police in the UK have begun trialling the use of mobile fingerprint scanners to check a person’s identity in less than a minute.

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The fingerprint scanners will run a check against two databases: the ‘Immigration and Asylum Biometric System’ (shortened to IABS) and the IDENT1. The IABS records the data of non-UK citizens, both entering and exiting the country, whereas the IDENT1 database records the data of any person taken into police custody in the UK. By using the fingerprint scanners, police on the ground can quickly ascertain if the suspected person is on either database – readily able to access data on previous convictions, false identities and relationships to other criminals. The results are provided in less than a minute, making for a more streamlined process at the first stages of questioning a suspect.

UK Police

Privacy advocacy groups in the UK are weary of the move, worried that police will abuse the technology; encouraging prejudice against minority groups who are already targeted unfairly by police amidst already rising tensions in local communities. However, a police spokesperson has assured that the fingerprint scanners will only be used if a suspect cannot be easily identified or if they are suspected of providing a false identity. The fingerprint is immediately deleted after the feedback is provided from the databases and isn’t stored on the database or device at the initial scan. The scan is then re-run if the suspect is taken into custody and interviewed in the police station, where the scanning can be monitored by other members of staff.

Technology is making work a little easier for enforcement officers on the ground, but do you feel comfortable providing your biometric data when asked? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: The Verge

Police in China Catch Criminals with Sunglasses

Police in China Catch Criminals with Sunglasses

During one of the most chaotic mass migrations in the Chinese calendar, Chinese police have been equipped with some high-tech gadgetry to help seek out criminals on the ground. Facial recognition and tracking of the general public is already in use worldwide through CCTV and other video recording technologies, however these techniques are often debilitated by blurry imagery and slow reaction times - meaning once criminals are identified they have already moved out of sight. China are enhancing these techniques by providing their front-line officers with the same technology on the ground.

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Sunglasses with built-in facial recognition can quickly scan passers-by and identify both wanted criminals and suspects, with the Chinese police already confirming the capture of 7 major crime suspects and 26 false identity travellers using the glasses. The Lunar New Year migration in China is one of the largest, with millions of travellers making their way home to celebrate with family. The sunglasses are currently being tested by Chinese police in Zhengzhou and will most likely be rolled out elsewhere judging by their current success.

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Despite the celebrated success by China Police, many are worried about the effects of such surveillance on general privacy and freedom in the country – with an estimated 600 million CCTV cameras in China by 2020, each equipped to track citizens wherever they go. This type of surveillance is great for catching criminals, but doesn’t rule out your everyday, rule-abiding citizen. The cameras are uploaded with a database of over 10,000 criminals, however there’s been no comment on the accuracy of the recognition – especially in large crowds of people. These types of technologies also provide new powers to government forces and police officers without strict regulations, with the strong possibility of misuse and misconduct in the near future.

With more and more technologies ending up in the hands of government and forces of power, it seems like George Orwell’s 1984 and the notion of ‘big brother’ might not be too far away.

Source: The Verge