British police dodgy facial recognition


This 6 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Cities Are Banning Facial Recognition Technology | WIRED

A handful of US cities have banned government use of facial recognition technology due to concerns over its accuracy and privacy. WIRED’s Tom Simonite talks with computer vision scientist and lawyer Gretchen Greene about the controversy surrounding the use of this technology.

From daily News Line in Britain:

STATE SPYING: Police launch facial recognition app – UN slams state spying on disabled

9th August 2019

SOUTH Wales Police have launched a facial recognition app which is to be installed on their officers’ phones, prompting human rights campaigners Liberty to exclaim: ‘This technology is intrusive, unnecessary, and has no place on our streets.’

In a three-month trial of the new police facial recognition app which has already prompted a legal challenge, 50 officers will be given the app.

The force’s use of facial recognition technology prompted a legal challenge by a man whose picture was taken by officers while he was out shopping.

Some other forces have already trialled the technology including the Metropolitan Police.

Hannah Couchman, of Liberty, said: ‘It is shameful that South Wales Police are rolling out portable facial recognition technology to individual officers while their so-called pilots are being challenged by Liberty in court. Far less intrusive means have been used for decades by police to establish a person’s identity where necessary.’

Meanwhile, the UN’s investigator into global poverty has said innocent people are being caught up in the mass surveillance system used by the UK’s welfare state to ‘combat benefit fraud’.

Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty, described it as a tragedy that people imagined that ‘the ever-more intrusive surveillance system by the UK welfare state’ was used only against alleged ‘welfare cheats’.

‘It’s not. It will soon affect everyone and leave the society much worse off. Everyone needs to pay attention and insist on decent limits,’ he said.

Alston said the UK’s surveillance system stood the presumption of innocence on its head. He said this was because everyone applying for a benefit was ‘screened for potential wrongdoing in a system of total surveillance’.

Rick Burgess, an activist with Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, said fears that footage of his members and supporters demonstrating was being passed from police to the DWP had had a ‘chilling effect’ on people’s willingness to protest.

‘There are people who are not protesting today because they are terrified by what the DWP might know about them,’ he said. ‘The idea that information the police gather at protests about some of those taking part could be passed to the DWP for welfare fraud investigations is Stasi-like.’

USA: CLASS ACTION AGAINST FACEBOOK OVER FACIAL RECOGNITION A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a group of Facebook users can move forward with their class action lawsuit challenging the company’s use of facial recognition technology. [HuffPost]

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Red kites in Wales, videos


This 3 April 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Red Kites: Birds Flying in Slow Motion, filmed at Gigrin Farm in Wales UK

Video Produced by Paul Dinning

This 9 April 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Red Kites Feeding at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader in Wales – Filmed in Slow Motion

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

Razorbills help measuring ocean currents


This video from Britain says about itself:

Razorbill and Guillemot Birds in the Sea at Hell’s Mouth in Cornwall, UK

Filmed on May 2nd 2016 Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

From the European Geosciences Union:

What seabirds can tell us about the tide

November 29, 2018

Summary: Razorbill tag data revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. ‘We saw this as an opportunity to (…) test if the birds might be drifting with the tidal current,’ says one of the researchers. It turns out they were, according to a new Ocean Science study that shows the potential of using seabirds to measure ocean currents.

When the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) set out to tag razorbills, their aim was to track their behaviour and movements along the coast of North Wales. The tag data revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. “We saw this as an opportunity to re-use the data and test if the birds might be drifting with the tidal current,” says Matt Cooper, a Master of Oceanography graduate from Bangor University in Wales. It turns out they were, according to a new study led by Cooper that shows the potential of using seabirds to measure ocean currents. The results are published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Ocean Science.

Using seabirds to tell us about the tide could be especially useful for the marine renewable energy industry. Generating tidal energy requires detailed knowledge of current speeds. Scientists and engineers traditionally measure tides by using radar or deploying anchors and buoys with scientific instruments. However, these scouting methods are challenging and expensive. If tagged seabirds could provide tidal data over a large area, they could help identify sites that would be good sources of tidal energy.

Cooper’s supervisors at Bangor University knew of his interest in tidal energy and data collection, so they suggested he look into seabird data collected by the RSPB to see whether it would be possible to extract tidal information from it. A few years earlier, from 2011 to 2014, a RSPB team had fitted GPS tags on razorbills on Puffin Island, North Wales, to study their distribution and breeding and feeding behaviours. These black and white seabirds, similar to puffins and guillemots, only come ashore to breed. They spend most of their time at sea, foraging or resting on the ocean surface.

The data collected when the birds were sitting on the sea surface for hours on end were interesting in terms of bird behaviour, but the Bangor University researchers saw another potential use. “We took data that was discarded from the original study and applied it to test a hypothesis in a different area of research,” says Cooper. “As far as we are aware, this paper is the first to describe the use of tagged seabirds for measuring currents of any kind,” the researchers write in their Ocean Science study.

The non-invasive GPS tags on the razorbills recorded their position every 100 seconds. With a set of positions and a known time between each of them, the scientists could calculate the speed and direction of the birds’ movements. After the sun set, the birds spent long periods at rest on the sea surface, drifting passively with the current. “[At these times] their changing position would reflect the movement of water at the ocean’s surface,” Cooper explains.

With speeds of more than 1 metre per second, the average tidal currents in the area of the Irish Sea the researchers focused on are very fast, faster than a razorbill can paddle, but much slower than the speeds the birds reach when flying. This means the team could filter out the times when the birds were flying. In addition, the filtered data showed that, when the birds were drifting, the direction of movement changed at the times of low and high tide, when the currents in the area were expected to change from ebb to flow and vice-versa. Therefore, the team could be sure that they were tracking the speed and direction of sea currents rather than the birds’ independent movements.

Using seabirds to measure tidal currents has limitations. “We must remember that these birds are behaving naturally and we cannot determine where they go,” says Cooper. But the Ocean Science study shows there is potential for this inexpensive method to provide crucial tidal information over a wide area. By studying other tagged seabirds, we could learn more about our oceans, especially in more remote regions where it is challenging to collect oceanographic data.

Cooper also hopes the method can reduce the costs of generating tidal renewable energy, “which has been a barrier to the development of this much needed industry.”

A wave energy technology is being developed that could help generate low-cost electricity for thousands of houses. The device costs less than conventional designs, has fewer moving parts, and is made of durable materials. It is designed to be incorporated into existing ocean energy systems and can convert wave power into electricity: here.