Electronic Weapons: Digital Lookouts


September 10, 2005

Troops in Iraq are increasingly using smart cams to guard their bases. Video cameras used for security is decades old. The new wrinkle is software that watches what the many cams see, analyses it, and alerts human operators if anything suspicious is spotted. A long-time problem with surveillance cameras was the large number of humans required to watch them. Its boring work, and one watcher can only monitor so many cameras. The smart video software, now entering the market, uses cheaper, and more powerful PC type systems to do the monitoring. The digital images seen by the vidcams, are compared to a library of images to watch out for (people with guns, items put down and left, and so on). Thus in Iraq, the troops can deploy hundreds of cameras, many of them sending their data back via a wireless link, and only have a few troops monitor the entire system (with other troops armed and ready to roll quickly if the system spots an intruder, and that is confirmed by the human operators.) Similar systems have been used by commercial organizations for several years. 


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