Indian American helps develop software to tag suspicious people

December 18th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 18 (IANS) An Indian American is helping develop a surveillance software that will tell whether a person on the street is acting suspiciously or appears to be lost. Intelligent video cameras, large video screens and geo-referencing software are among the technologies that will soon be available to law enforcement and security agencies.

“We’ve always tried to develop technologies that would improve officers’ situational awareness, and now we want to give that same kind of awareness to computers,” said James W. Davis, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State University.

Davis and doctoral student Karthik Sankaranarayanan said they have completed the first three phases of the project: they have one software algorithm that creates a wide-angle video panorama of a street scene, another that maps the panorama on to a high-resolution aerial image of the scene, and a method for actively tracking a selected target.

The goal is a networked system of “smart” video cameras that will let surveillance officers observe a wide area quickly and efficiently. Computers will carry much of the workload, Davis explained.

“In our research, we care what you do, not who you are. We aim to analyse and model the behaviour patterns of people and vehicles moving through the scene, rather than attempting to determine the identity of people.

“We are trying to automatically learn what typical activity patterns exist in the monitored area, and then have the system look for atypical patterns that may signal a person of interest - perhaps someone engaging in nefarious behaviour or a person in need of help.”

The software takes a series of snapshots from every direction within a camera’s field of view and combines them into a seamless panorama.

The team is now working on determining who should be followed, said a Ohio State University statement.

Sankaranarayanan is expected to get his Ph.D on Thermal Modelling and Management from University of Virginia, Charlottesville, by the end of the year. He got his engineering degree from Anna University, Chennai.

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