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Matching Forensic Sketches to Large Face Image Databases

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $459,983)

The applicant proposes to build a prototype forensic sketch face recognition system that will better enable the matching of forensic sketches to facial photograph databases. This application includes participation by law enforcement practitioners. The Pinellas County Sheriffs Office (PCSO) in Florida, which operates Floridas Facial Recognition Network (FR-NET), will provide support in expanding the size of the sketch database, evaluating the sketch recognition system, and providing feedback on system performance and usability. A team of forensic artists from the Michigan State Police have agreed to provide their sketching services.

Forensic sketches are routinely used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects when only a verbal description of their facial appearance is available. Despite progress in face recognition technology, the ability to automatically match forensic sketches to large facial photograph databases (e.g. mug shot, driver's license) does not exist.

The goal of the proposed research is to build a prototype of forensic sketch face recognition which consists of following tasks:

1. Develop a face recognition algorithm that leads to higher accuracies in matching forensic sketches to photographs,
2. Increase the size of the database of forensic sketches and corresponding photographs to refine the matching algorithm and evaluate the system performance,
3. Identify appropriate representation and matching schemes for computer generated facial composites,
4. Install the prototype system at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) as well as other interested agencies for evaluation and feedback for improving the system performance, and
5. Document and disseminate research results in the form of papers, reports, dissertations, and presentations as appropriate.


This award was competitively made under the FY2011 NIJ "Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies for Criminal Justice Applications" solicitation. This project is for research to develop a software tool to match forensic sketches to facial images contained in law enforcement databases such as the photographs taken at booking.

The proposed FY 2013 supplement is to enable refinement of the grantee-developed 'Face Sketch ID' software tool to incorporate lessons learned during Beta testing and to enable its further demonstration. Facial sketches are widely used by law enforcement agencies to assist in the identification and apprehension of suspects involved in criminal activities. In the first two years of this project, the applicant developed the FaceSketchID system, which can automatically match facial sketches to mugshots with state-of-the-art accuracy. The algorithm used by the FaceSketchID system for matching has been improved throughout the duration of the initial award and the awardee anticipates continuing to improve performance by: (i) incorporating a facial component representation scheme, (ii) integrating better training methods, (iii) changing the similarity measures, (iv) tuning algorithmic parameters, and (v) acquiring additional training data. With the feedback from users, they will improve the user interface of the FaceSketchID system in addition to increasing its usability by reducing the face/sketch template size and increasing matching speed. Performance of the technology can be measured by the facial recognition capability of the software tool against forensic sketches and composite facial renderings. Deliverables include the software tool and reporting on the above project. nca/ncf

Date Created: September 20, 2011