Bus bombed to test new forensic video camera

March 10th, 2009 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 10 (IANS) Would cheap, lightweight video cameras survive a big costly blast and still retain images of the destruction?
That was the question bothering the US department of homeland security as well as scientists and managers who watched the blast from behind three feet of reinforced concrete.

Outside was an old public bus, rigged with explosives, a series of baseball-sized video cameras mounted on its walls.

Could the images on their memory chips be salvaged by computer engineers? Would they be clear enough to identify the bomber? In this case, of course, the latter question wasn’t much of a mystery.

The scientists watched a wall of flat screens hooked up to high-speed cameras that surrounded the bombing range outside. This was just one test with one bus, representing just one kind of dangerous threat.

“The idea is that the cameras are robust enough to survive the blast from a suicide bomber,” said Science & Technology’s Stephen Dennis.

Even behind a giant steel plate, the walls of the shelter shuddered. The screens flashed red, and filled with smoky plumes.

“There wasn’t much left of the bus except the wheels and chassis. But the cameras survived, and that was the point,” he said.

Dennis added: “These cameras would be used as a means of forensic analysis.”

They would not transmit or collect personal information, and would be tamper-proof to prevent someone from ripping one off a wall and, say, posting the images on YouTube, according to a DHS statement.

Video from the cameras would be recovered and used by law enforcement only after an incident.

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