Sunday, October 14, 2007

Surveillance system tracks faces on CCTV

Substitute the word Terrorist for protester and we can imagine what the state wants to monitor demonstrations.

Story-
British researchers say they have developed a new technology that will allow police to track suspicious individuals over CCTV more efficiently.

The system, which uses computer software to monitor and break down live television images, is able to track a moving face through a crowd.

Engineers at British defence company BAE Systems, which is working on the technology, claim it is even able to automatically follow a target even if they change their appearance by changing their clothes or hiding beneath a hat.

"Today the effectiveness of CCTV surveillance relies on a small, highly-trained team to identify and track suspicious individuals," said Andrew Cooke, project manager at BAE Systems.

"Automating elements of the system - and employing techniques to prevent suspects from throwing a team off their scent – enables a single operative to track multiple targets with as much, or even greater, precision than before."

The Integrated Surveillance of Crowded Areas for Public Security (Iscaps) project is part of a joint initiative with around Europe to develop security systems for potential deployment around the continent.

The scheme, which is partially funded by the European Commission, started just months before the London bombings in July 2005, which claimed 56 lives. CCTV pictures were crucial in identifying the bombers after the attack had taken place, but proved little help in preventing the actions of the bombers.

A Home Office study in 2005 found that CCTV was largely ineffective at preventing crime, but claimed much of the problems were due to lack of proper monitoring. Only half of surveillance control rooms were staffed for 24 hours a day.

The development comes as law enforcement officials step up their attempts to keep tabs on those suspected of terrorist offences.

The Guardian recently reported that intelligence agencies were using military aircraft to monitor targets and eavesdrop on their conversations. The Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, used by police to trace criminals targets from altitude, are now understood to being deployed in counter-terrorist operations under the command of RAF pilots.

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