The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Explosives Division (EXD), which is behind some of the most advanced and cutting edge technology, has developed a suite of video forensic tools to quickly review and analyze video for unique and specific security assessments.
The technology is currently being tested within the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) by the Metro Transit Police in order to ensure riders’ safety.
DHS S&T is working alongside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to develop the video forensic tools. These tools are currently installed in Amtrak’s Emergency Management Agency and WMATA’s new Security Operation Control Center.
“The Video Forensic Tools monitor for potential threat indicators as well as criminal or other suspicious behaviors. There are three distinct tools in the suite, each facilitating a unique analysis,” EXD Program Manager, Don Roberts, explained.
The tools include:
- Fast Event Review allows for the rapid review of vital events that occur during an emergency situation, which helps determine whether an explosive device has been placed in a public area.
- Video Summarization is able to compress long sections of surveillance video into shorter summary clips. This allows for an easy to view series of events for any given scene.
- Path Reconstruction follows an individual of interest through multiple camera views. This gives the operator the chance to reconstruct the individual’s path.
“The ability that we have now as an agency to review video real time, to monitor it real time, to go back in time, and using video analytics software, it’s really advanced the security side here at Metro,” Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said. “It’s a great technology advancement, probably one of the greatest since I’ve been here. It really gives us the ability to quickly confirm a possible incident.”
According to Pavlik, metro police have made over 500 arrests and closed more than 200 cases in 2015 due to video analysis.
“The Video Summarization Tool specifically was successfully demonstrated during the Pope’s visit to Washington in September 2015,” Roberts said. “In the future, the suite of tools will be key in achieving S&T’s goal of screening individuals, baggage, and other items entering large stadiums, special event sites, mass transit systems, and important facilities at the speed of life.”
The tools can be used in near real time, with a delay of only a few seconds, which can significantly assist transit agencies and other venues, such as large crowd event gatherings.