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------- Forwarded Message
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 09:18:29 -0500
From: Dan S <[email protected]>
Subject: [CTRL] Smart spy cameras on the way
To: [email protected]
Smart spy cameras on the way
By Patrick Hook
POLICE scientists are close to a major breakthrough that will allow CCTV
cameras to "recognise" criminal activity.
Using leading-edge neural and pattern recognition technologies,
developed for space and defence applications, scientists are confident
that it will shortly be possible to police whole areas of the country
automatically and alert the authorities to criminal activity.
Speaking at a recent London conference organised by the research and
development group SIRA, Dr Mike Taylor, head of technology operations at
Scotland Yard, said the main barrier to the development of such a system
was the quality of the images that were generally produced by existing
CCTV equipment.""It is perfectly feasible to develop software which can
distinguish certain actions, but the quality of image capture means that
it is often difficult to see exactly what is going on," he said.
"The quality is, it seems, in direct proportion to the amount of effort
that users are prepared to invest in such systems. Since its
introduction more than 20 years ago, the need for such technology has
increased, and intelligent sensory information processing and
information fusing is going to play a very key part in crime management.
The next step is to add other sensory devises such as microphones to
pick up the sound of breaking glass and sensors that can detect the
smell of particular substances and trigger an appropriate response."
The work is part of a research programme into an area of security that
has been identified by the government's Foresight Challenge as a
priority for further study. Drawn from a range of organisations,
including the police, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency and the
Home Office, the work of the team is being partly funded by Brussels.
Most of the research is centred on the fusing of information from
several sources to present a more accurate report of what the CCTV
camera has seen.
"The additional cost of a microphone or other sensor is not likely to be
great," said Taylor, "and should make a significant difference to the
ability of the police to detect criminal activity."
Not everyone is enthusiastic, however. John Wadham, director of Liberty,
said: "It's difficult to see how this kind of technology would work
accurately in practice. It could result in officers' time being wasted
investigating incidents - and indeed individuals - which turn out to be
entirely innocent. I do wonder whether we have enough surveillance
already. Surveillance technology is better at protecting property than
people and is still not adequately regulated to protect privacy."
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