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New video surveillance system tags, tracks and follows

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 03:28

Dec. 19 - Software developed for closed-circuit television systems can identify individuals and track them across entire networks of cameras. Joel Flynn reports.

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Great Britain may be one of the most watched nations in the world. A rough count by police earlier this year estimated there were 4.2 million cameras in the country. That's nearly one for every 15 people. And now there's a piece of software that lets them know exactly who you are. Tag and Track identifies individuals when they enter a camera network, assigning them a unique identifier so it knows where they've been, who they've been there with, and where they are now. Ipsotek, the software's developers, have also created systems that catch casino cheats and detect car crashes, but say tag and track is the one that could change the way surveillance works. Andrew Eggington is the company's finance director. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IPSOTEK FINANCE DIRECTOR, ANDREW EGGINGTON, SAYING: "When you want to go back and suddenly either locate a person or find out where their journey went, you find them in a slot of video, you do a simple click and it's doing a Google search on the data, so you get an instantaneous result which tells you 'this is the person's whole journey, this is every clip of video that they appeared in, every camera they were in front of' and if they're in the city centre at that moment, it will tell you 'this is where they are now', or if they've left the town centre it will say 'this is the last time they were in the network of CCTV cameras'." Ipsotek recently won the UK finals of the 2011 Global Security Challenge for developing the software, which has been trialled in airports as well as streets. But the software could be as useful for prosecuting criminals as much as catching them. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IPSOTEK FINANCE DIRECTOR, ANDREW EGGINGTON, SAYING: "If you have something like the recent London riots, there's tens of thousands of hours of video now that police are combing through trying to find exactly this; an evidence pack of this is the person, we've got them from the moment they entered the network to the end. It takes several hours to put together those pieces of information for one suspect. In theory, when Tag and Track is fully developed, at the click of a button you could do that for every person involved in those riots." The riots, which lasted for five days, spreading from London across the country, caused more than 300 million (US) dollars worth of damage. British police were forced to wade through hours of footage to try and identify the individuals involved. Tag and track could potentially cut around 80 percent of the work involved in scanning old footage for evidence. Human rights groups say the lack of regulation on data captured by closed circuit television cameras presents a real threat to people's privacy. But Martin Lazell, the chairman of the Public CCTV Manager's Association and control centre manager in Greater London, says the threat is exaggerated. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PUBLIC CCTV MANAGER'S ASSOCIATION CHAIRMAN, MARTIN LAZELL, SAYING: "CCTV is probably the most visible form of surveillance that's around at the moment, but I think in some ways that probably means it's the least insidious. I mean a recent survey by the CCTV user group showed that there's massive support for public space CCTV, so I'm not convinced that there is a concern." Ipsotek claims that Tag and Track could seamlessly integrate with information from other recognition sensors such as facial, fingerprint and iris recognition, so that the whereabouts of particular individuals could be monitored. And, though concerns remain, the technology is expected to be commercially available within years. Joel Flynn, Reuters.

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New video surveillance system tags, tracks and follows

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 03:28

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