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New CCTV tech could spot abandoned baggage and track its owner


September 9, 2010

The SUBITO system is intended to detect unattended baggage, and track down its owner

The SUBITO system is intended to detect unattended baggage, and track down its owner

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We’ve told you before about CCTV programs that can identify criminal behavior, or that skip through footage where nothing’s happening. Now, a consortium of ten organizations from six European countries is working on another concept involving video monitoring of public spaces. It’s called the SUBITO project, for Surveillance of Unattended Baggage and the Identification and Tracking of the Owner, and it’s intended to do pretty much what the name suggests. Installed in existing security camera systems at places such as airports or train stations, the software will identify baggage that has been left unattended, and that could therefore possibly contain an explosive device. It will then search back to identify the person who deposited that baggage, then follow them forward through various cameras to establish their present location.

A project such as this involves a number of technical challenges. One of these is the development of facial recognition software that can establish someone’s identity based on one camera’s shot, then proceed to recognize that same face in other shots. Behavioral algorithms are likewise being developed, to help the system guess where a person was heading, should it visually lose track of them in a crowd. The system is also being taught to recognize an individual’s gait, so it can recognize them simply by the way they walk.

Other applications being implemented include carried object detection and dual-background static object detection. SUBITO will additionally utilize “threat analysis algorithms” to identify potentially critical situations based not only on the presence of abandoned baggage, but also on the placement of people and other objects within the environment.

...and if all of this sounds just a little too Orwellian to you, rest assured that a study of the legal and ethical ramifications of the technology are a key part of the project.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
1 Comment

I believe this would be easily thwarted if the bag is simply placed under a bench or tucked away anywhere the camera cannot detect it.

Paul Anthony
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