BART director wants to explore facial recognition technology in cameras

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Four thousand security cameras record the platforms and parking lots of BART's 48 stations and hundreds of trains as they travel throughout the Bay Area.

"We need to be now using those cameras to the best of their ability to make our riders safer," said District 8 BART director, Nick Josefowitz, who spoke to ABC7 via Facetime from North Carolina.

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Josefowitz wants to explore whether facial recognition technology can be added to BART's camera system to keep people who pose a threat to riders out of the system.

"This isn't some big kind of big brother dragnet approach. This is very targeted at folks who have a warrant out for their arrest," said Josefowitz.

Despite the recent spate of violent attacks, including the murder of Nia Wilson, many BART riders are concerned facial recognition may be a step too far when it comes to new safety measures.

"You'd have to make sure there are a lot of safeguards up so their privacy isn't being jeopardized," said BART commuter Jon Steinberg.

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"Because it's technology, there may be some errors," said BART rider Lois Bailey Lindsey, who added, "It might pick up the wrong person."

"Facial recognition is really not particularly accurate at this point," said Nate Cardozo, who is an attorney at San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends free speech and privacy in the digital world.

Cardozo says because of the images it's trained on, facial recognition technology works much better when identifying white people than people of color. "It's a problem that's going to take decades and tens of millions of dollars to solve."

In the meantime, BART is paying all of their officers to work a sixth day every week to boost the system's police presence.

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