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FCW : May 15, 2014
The science of pulling useful data out of digitized video — or video analytics — is an increasingly confounding task given the staggering amount of archived video and new footage captured every day from an expanding array of devices. It’s not just coming from fixed and pan-tilt-zoom cameras any more: Lapel cameras, helmet-mounted cam- eras, consumer technologies such as Google Glass and the ubiquitous smartphone all contribute to the video stream. Government uses tend to focus on areas such as perim- eter security, where motion detection and object tracking are important applications of video analytics by agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which started using the technology in the early 2000s. Government agen- cies also use video analytics to capture images of license plates and identify people. Although the current applications have proven useful, today’s technology has significant limitations. Government, academic and industry researchers confront a number of challenges that range from exploring ways to more effi- ciently comb through huge stores of video — essentially a big-data problem — to coping with cameras that move around as they record objects that are also in motion. Furthermore, developments in software have failed to keep pace with the explosion in video camera hardware. Jie Yang, a program director at the National Science Foun- dation, said the field of computer vision, a key component of video analytics, has made progress in terms of object detection and tracking, facial detection, and license-plate recognition. But high-level video analysis, which would pro- vide a more comprehensive understanding of the objects recorded in video and their relationships to one another, is far from mature. “People are working hard, but we are not really there yet,” said Yang, who is responsible for the Information and Intelligent Systems core programs and the National Robot- ics Initiative at NSF. Why it matters Video analytics tools are often associated with security. The technology can continuously monitor multiple video feeds for movement or other details that could escape the atten- tion of a human observer. Agencies that protect government- owned buildings and infrastructure use the technology to get more out of their investments in video surveillance. “We are seeing more agencies putting out more cameras,” said Warren Brown, president of ObjectVideo, which licenses its video analytics technologies to IP video manufacturers. “Inevitably, there are not enough people to watch all of that video, and that is where the...push for analytics comes from.” Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, increasingly rely on video analytics for facial recognition. The technology played a role in the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing last year, and some federal agencies continue to explore that use of the technology. The FBI, for instance, has launched a study of video and digital image processing and analytics, issuing a request for information last year asking industry leaders to demonstrate capabilities in facial, vehicle and license-plate recognition. In the RFI, officials said they would like to “identify cur- rent capabilities, assess gaps and develop a road map for the FBI’s future video analytics architecture.” The technology, however, reaches beyond the realms of security and law enforcement. Yang cited the example of a research project at the Georgia Institute of Technology that uses video analytics to help screen children for autism. The research is funded by a $10 million grant from NSF’s Expeditions in Computing program. Georgia Tech’s initiative involves using facial recogni- Taking video analytics to the next level BY JOHN MOORE The technology has become more common in the federal space and even in consumer settings, but it still has a long way to go 28 May 15, 2014 FCW.COM ExecTe c h
April 30, 2014
May 30, 2014