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Airport Video Surveillance Goes Hi-Tech

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the just-what-do-you-think-you're-doing-dave dept.

85

conq writes "BusinessWeek has a piece on new tech used in the airport of Helsinki to monitor behavior and alert people when predefined situations arise. From the article: "The system can alert staff to events which may need further investigation without the need for every camera to be observed by staff. For example, suspect packages or vehicles left unattended will be flagged up and staff alerted. Similarly if the system detects queues growing beyond a pre-defined length in the security zone staff will be alerted of the need to open another lane""

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I HAVE AN AIRPORT VIDEO CAMERA IN MY PANTS. (1)

GET THE FACTS! (850779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355779)

fp?

Huh? (4, Insightful)

mingot (665080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355792)

Similarly if the system detects queues growing beyond a pre-defined length in the security zone staff will be alerted of the need to open another lane.

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane? Seems like a solution looking for a problem if you ask me.

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355835)

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane?

That's not in the job description.

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355901)

Going by personal experience here, They seem completely unable to know when another line need's opened.
Even if you ask you them about it or paint a big banner with the word's "OPEN ANOTHER LINE YOU BASTARDS".

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356004)

Speaking from personal experience here, you are talking out of your arse. Helsinki airport is an order of magnitude more bearable, than, say Manchester or Heathrow here in the UK. The Finns, in general, are a level-headed race and they seem to be able to run things in an orderly fashion. Helsinki airport is clean, I've never found myself short of somewhere to sit and wait, or been too far out of range of the toilets, or, as you kind of suggest, had to stand there in a massive queue whilst staff stand idly around. BTW, have you really been there? Quick test: What hangs from the ceiling quite prominently in the checked-in waiting area?

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356674)

oooh oooh can I play???

Quick test: What hangs from the ceiling quite prominently in the checked-in waiting area?

Your balls? As you've clearly got a massive package, which is diverting the blood from your brain, as the parent was quite obviously making a generalized comment with an attempt at humor about airport security lines, and not your precious Helsinki...

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15358940)

How in the world did Helsinki come up? Did I miss something?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15360366)

Did click on the link posted in the PARENT?

Re:Huh? (1, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356057)

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane?
That would involve the activity known as "talking to somebody". You clearly don't have much experience dealing with Finns if you think that's going to happen.

Re:Huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356095)

You clearly don't have much experience dealing with Finns if you think that's going to happen.
I do though, and, strange as it is, when I talk to Finns, they respond. It's almost as if the nature of communication is exactly the same between English people and Finns as it would be for English people and..any nationality!

If you are insinuating that they are not predisposed to make idle chatter, I have to agree. But they are still polite and courteous, and wouldn't wantonly ignore you. You weren't wearing some smelly England top were you? I mean, if you slur 'Oi mate open there's a queue 'ere open another fucking lane for fucks sake', whilst farting Maccarat and belching Karhu, well, fuck, I would ignore you.

Besides it's not bad thing if you have to wait a while longer in Helsinki airport - the Finnish women are something else. UK women just look like cheap, ugly deformed swamp donkeys compared to them...

Re:Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356417)

Actually, I was trying to solve their IT problems. Usually it took several iterations before they'd tell you half the information you actually needed to get the job done.

So, Mr AC, it seems your telepathic powers totally fail it. And yet you're still considerably better at mindreading than you are at humour.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357557)

UK women just look like cheap, ugly deformed swamp donkeys compared to them...

You know, calling UK women "cheap" isn't nice at all..

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357639)

..and rain is wet.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356420)

Union regulations state that only supervisory roles can make a determination about opening another lane. Wand Wielders, Shoe Sniffers, Scan Scanners, and Pat Patters do not have the experience or mental capacity to make such a determination. The supervisor isn't much brighter and must consult a computer (Overlord System) before making the determination to open another lane. Only after proper analytics have been compiled and a determination is made by the computer can the supervisor institute a lane opening. The proper forms must be submitted with the goldenrod copy being retained by the supervisor. This procedure generally confuses the supervisor, thus the long queues.

Re:Huh? (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356473)

You're assuming they can actually see the end of the queue from where they are (under normal conditions). I've been in plenty of airports where the security checkpoint and the queue for it are largely contained in two separate spaces.

Not if the employees are AA (EE) (1)

Philosomatographer (744211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356606)

Not if this was in South Africa (or any African country, for that matter) and not if the airport enforces Affirmative action [wikipedia.org] - which has brought the average worker skill down to shocking levels here in S.A.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356624)

I love this stuff.

The more these guys let thier actions be dictated by what "the computer" decides, the more opportunities arise for subtle and fun hacks.

I can't wait until they start using these at the grocery store. I can see it now - hacking my way to having more lines open! Yeah! Stick it to the man!

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

dmatos (232892) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356867)

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane?

Seeing as the standard "pre-defined length" actually stretches over the horizon, beyond the sightlines of the employees working the security station, then no, they can't. This new system enables them to know when they can have another employee earning money, without detracting from the 3-hour experience of waiting in line that we've all come to know and love.

Just think of the problems if you got through security quickly, and had to kill those three hours waiting on the departures concourse. *shudders*

Several things wrong with this. (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357789)

>Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane?

I fly a lot, and from personal ovbservation I can say that the answer to your question is, "No, they can't." There seem to be a number of reasons for this:
  • They don't give a shit. You are not a "customer", and they are not answerable to you in any way. How you feel about the way they treat you does not affect them at all, not in pay, job security, promotion, etc.
  • They are not very bright. I swear these people couldn't get a job flipping burgers. At one of the airports I fly through regularly, some of them take their breaks in an out of the way nook in the concourse where I like to wait. The conversations I have overheard lead me to the conclusion that many of them are among the world's truly stupid people. Really scary.
  • There's no one to call, anyway. Staffing decisions were made last week by some dork who isn't at work right now. The only way to open a new line is to start calling people at home and ask them to come into work. The fact that conditions have changed doesn't matter. In fact, the idea that conditions might possibly change doesn't seem to enter anyone's head.

    The one exception to this, among airports I use regularly, is SFO. The TSA crews there are bright, energetic, efficient, and polite. The place is still a nightmare of delays, but that's down to the airlines, not TSA.

Re:Huh? (1)

Proteus (1926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15359259)

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane? Seems like a solution looking for a problem if you ask me.

Yes, they can do that. But, their core function is to perform the security checks. From a management point of view, if I can have something that tells a supervisor to open another lane without having to distract an employee from that core function, I'll probably pay for it. Just like I'd pay more to have staff rotate more frequently, so that the repetitive work doesn't lead to a loss of focus that puts my customers and assets at risk.

Seems like a reasonable decision to me.

Re:Huh? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15359433)

You're kidding, right? This would assume that employees at these places have more intelligence than an earthworm. I'm not old enough to know if maybe there was a time when average people were generally smart enough to say "Hey, there's a lot of people in this line. Let's open another one.", but they're definitely not that smart (or motivated) now.

You can see this nearly every place that has long lines, not just airports.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15363861)

Can't the actual human employees at the head of the line make this determination and alert whomever has the authority to open another lane? Seems like a solution looking for a problem if you ask me.
Why do you assume that the people at the head of the queue can see to the end of the queue?
Aberdeen airport (IIRC the 6th busiest in the UK) : [SNIP ASCII-art drawing] Crap design means that once the designated queueing area is full (almost always), the queue stretches down a corridor to the ticket/ boarding pass checking desk, and often off into the public concourse, so the Neanderthals at the security desk don't have any real idea of how many are queueing.
Of course, you could suggest building a new terminal, but since the airport is surrounded by a village on one side and industrial developments on the other 3 sides, there's nowhere to build a new terminal. We just have to live with it. Or we could level a couple of mountains or build a new airport out at sea. But that costs money.

A better use for it (3, Funny)

gooman (709147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355793)

...if the system detects queues growing beyond a pre-defined length in the security zone staff will be alerted of the need to open another lane

Forget the airport, I want this at my local supermarket!

Re:A better use for it (2, Funny)

jftitan (736933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355869)

Hell yes!

    I was in the local supermarket today, and I had to stand in line for a good 30 minutes. I stopped a manager 'looking' person and asked them "why the hell was there only 3 tellers open when there are 20 teller stations, and over 45 people standing in line for just the 3 open ones" Her reply was, no one had told her to open another teller to ease the wait.

"WTF, someone has to tell you, "there are 45 people waiting in line for only three tellers, go open one or two more.", your an idiot." -My reponse.

Still I waited only to finally get to the front of the line only to see one more teller getting to a station to open, but by the time he was ready to open, no one was left to be taken care of.

All I can say is, if it wasn't for my ipod (and the soft, easy going music I was listening to.) I would have snapped and killed someone. Or even worse... snapped and killed myself.

worse? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356164)

did you mispell better?

Re:A better use for it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357374)

"Or even worse...snapped and killed myself."

next time don't hesitate. save us all your emotionally charged personal history lesson. we really don't care about your pathetic little anecdote; whataya think this is.... MYSPACE?

Somebody tell Sam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356587)

While the local Walmart offers a lot of low price items, it really is a place to shop only for people that don't value their time very much. Anyone can clearly see that the Walmart credo includes something that makes the slightest possibility of even thinking about having a momentarily idle cashier cause for management cardiac arrest. Much more productive to have all cashiers 100% fully utilized for their entire shift -- at the expense of the customers time and convenience.

Re:Somebody tell Sam! (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356758)

I'm willing to bet that if you chose a time to go shopping at Walmart (target, whatever else, all the same), that you, like me, would never have to wait more than a few minutes tops to checkout. Take a moment to think about the time of day you typically go shopping when there are a lot of people. Now try going about 3 hours earlier or later.

Re:Somebody tell Sam! (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15360152)

Asda, the UK equivalent, has "full bank weekends" where every single lane has to be open at all times. Even stuff like jewellery counters, where you've got three tills and hardly anyone buying (who the fuck buys Asda jewellery at 11pm on a Saturday?).

Echo Chamber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15355796)

"Similarly if the system detects queues growing beyond a pre-defined length in the security zone staff will be alerted of the need to open another lane"""

Sears really could use this.

I'm always amused at the airport... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15355803)

... when I see a line of 500 densely-packed people waiting to go through an X-ray machine intended to prevent somebody from blowing up a plane loaded with 200 densely-packed people.

"Security theatre," indeed.

Re:I'm always amused at the airport... (5, Funny)

Rix (54095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355850)

People are replaceable, 767s cost millions of dollars...

Why was parent modded funny? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356219)

It's "Insightful" if anything, although it's a no-brainer.

That said - an airport terminal and collateral damages (people staying away, lawsuits, etc.) will run much, much higher than a plane.

Re:Why was parent modded funny? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356378)

Mate I've been here a while and all you are doing is opening yourself to accusation that you are humourless. FWIW I agree with you, however all you will get is a few lazy one-liners telling you to get a sense of humour. And probably more than one of the imminent put-downs will begin with 'Dude..'. Remember: it's only not-funny if it clearly hurts Americans. Otherwise, anything goes, despite an international audience..

Re:Why was parent modded funny? (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15360345)

It was intended as dark humour.

All the airport terminal's I've been in have been very expansive. A small bomb wouldn't do any major damage to the building, and there isn't any especially expensive equipment around (compared to commercial airliners). I'm not aware of anyone being held liable for terrorism, and the bad PR from a terminal bombing would be considerably less than that of a mid air bombing.

From the financial perspective of airlines, it's much better to have a bomb go off on the ground, even if it kills more people.

Re:I'm always amused at the airport... (3, Funny)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356458)

Exactly. People can be easily mass-produced with unskilled labor; airplanes cannot. (With apologies to Wernher von Braun)

Re:I'm always amused at the airport... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357436)

But who would want to get rid of all of that high quality soylent green?

Re:I'm always amused at the airport... (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357148)

How big a bomb does it take to blow up a line of 500 people? (Note: they aren't "densely-packed" - they're arranged in a long line, maybe two lines.) Now, how big a bomb does it take to cause a plane to crash?

it doesn't work (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15355810)

I design security systems just like that one and I know that the video analysis software is not yet good enough to pick out "suspect packages". Sadly, relying on the passengers in the airport or commuters in the rail/subway stations is still the most-effective method of identifying suspect/left packages.

Re:it doesn't work (2, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355851)

I immediately thought "emperor has no clothes" myself. We are not at the level of technological sophistication where this is feasible.

This will actually create morework because the "terra sentinels" will quickly realize the system is useless, but will be compelled by their boss to investigate every blip in addition to their current duties.

Re:it doesn't work (2, Insightful)

foundme (897346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355873)

Your statement just raised another security problem -- As public are made known of these High-Tech-Knows-It-All cameras, they might be relying more on these for protection, rather than the good-old common sense.

TouristA: Hmm... that suitcase over there has been left alone for a while
TouristB: Don't worry, I'm sure it'll be picked up soon by the security camera.

Re:it doesn't work (1)

S3D (745318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356146)

I design security systems just like that one and I know that the video analysis software is not yet good enough to pick out "suspect packages"
I do some work with image recognition (AR) and I don't see big problem here. You may not get 100% rate identification, but the rate will be pretty high. The camera have fixed position. So first make screenshot of empty area with markers put on it, and you have static background together with depth map. After that you can pick any unmoving object on this background (there is a lot of relaibale methods for it), and using depth map get its size. After that you can even analize it's shape. It would be a lot more difficalt if camera move arbitrary, but with static camera it is simple.
But I wouldn't quite trust such a system. This system could be intentionally gamed (decoys, overflowing system with false alarms, etc) while creating false sense of security.

Re:it doesn't work (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356411)

But I wouldn't quite trust such a system. This system could be intentionally gamed (decoys, overflowing system with false alarms, etc) while creating false sense of security.


To work better, the system shouldn't rely only on static data, someday it will have enough capacity to identify when a person leaves a package behind. Otherwise, the system is susceptible to something the military have known for a long time: camouflage. Have a package painted in the same color and shade as the background and it will be invisible.

Re:it doesn't work (3, Insightful)

old man moss (863461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356496)

"I don't see big problem here."

How about: lighting changes (sun comes out / goes in), shadows cast by passing objects, reflections from moving objects, camera auto-gain triggered by scene composition changes, camera noise, white-out.

Big problem. You can make it work some of the time...

Re:it doesn't work (1)

S3D (745318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15358075)

How about: lighting changes (sun comes out / goes in), shadows cast by passing objects, reflections from moving objects, camera auto-gain triggered by scene composition changes,

I'm dealing with it on the frigging cellphone with camera, adaptive thresholding work wonder. With powerfull PC, smoothing filters, color transformations that not a problem at all.

Re:it doesn't work (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356954)

I dont doubt your credentials, but I think that if a camera was fixed, and if the software has an impression of what the empty airport terminal looks like in varying lighting conditions, then a single blob that ran against that impression and that didn't move shouldn't be completely beyond software to analyse. Especially if the cameras were able to work in stereo (one in the NE corner, the other in the SW corner of a building - then an unmoving shape that doesn't look like an empty portion of the room would be more obvious.

Unattended (3, Interesting)

foundme (897346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355813)

I wonder how it detects an unattended package. If said package is left in a crowded area, will the system be confused that such package is still being "attended" by moving traffic?

Re:Unattended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15355839)

They could make it look for objects that stay stationary for too long. Worst case is a lot of false-positives. I'm more worried about people taking advantage of the unattended camera by putting something down so that it matches its surroundings - a slate-blue briefcase or suitcase against slate tiles.

Or maybe that thing from fifth element where the would-be robber has a picture of the empty hallway strapped to his head. But I digress...

Re:Unattended (2, Interesting)

TMarvelous (928161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356675)

I live in NYC and last year the MTA, the group that operates the subways, revealed video to the new of it's planned security system and it does exactly that. Every object that is moving in the video frame is "boxed" like a military targeting computer. In their demonstration, any time one of those moving boxes stops for more than a second or two the box turns red and alerts are sent to whoever is programmed to receive them. In the video a person walks into a subway station with a briefcase (which is separately targeted) and then puts it down and walks away, the briefcase stays targeted and triggers an alert. This was a crowded NYC subway station so it was pretty impressive. I'm sure it's not infallible but it can at least trigger authorities to look up and look at situations like this they may not normally see and certainly not while walking the beat.

Re:Unattended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15358766)

If you have many many cameras and had this running on each of them, only the interesting objects are flagged and brought to the attention of someone looking, as opposed to having tons of people each watching a few screens each might be worthwhile.

We need some of that goodness here! (5, Interesting)

mswope (242988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355838)

"Similarly if the system detects queues growing beyond a pre-defined length in the security zone staff will be alerted of the need to open another lane"

Mondays incur serious bottlenecks here at IAH Terminal C (Houston). The security staff seems stymied by their limited empowerment to work the crowd. Often, the line extends out the door, and sometimes into traffic. In fact, it's often more expedient (though no less "secure") to check into a different terminal altogether, then walk or take a tram to Terminal C's gates. The idea that we could open several lines seems beyond the security personnel.

The odd thing to me is that this airport seems the *least* offensive of several majors. Perhaps it's just my familiarity with Houston's particular brand of inefficiency.

I know that the security measures in most were put in place *after* 9-11; therefore, they didn't benefit from any really modern analysis of their security methods (Denver is the most egregious that I've found, to date). However, true to "government droid" stereotypes, the people manning the lines can't seem to think adaptively *and* provide equivalent security.

Ah well, getting to the airport 2 hours early is supposed to be relaxing, somehow....

Re:We need some of that goodness here! (1)

wgaryhas (872268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357686)

There is a reason I arrive 3 hours early at IAH.

Inadvertent false positives (5, Interesting)

Rekolitus (899752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355892)

In the UK over the past few years there've been various rights-eroding laws put in place (e.g. warrantless searches and arrests if they suspect you're a terrorist), and then this happened [guardian.co.uk] .

What worries me is that the security staff are going to blindly believe the computer's "this is suspicious", causing the person huge inconvenience despite any actual evidence of him being a terrorist on his person. See the link - just because someone matched enough random, minor items on (presumably) some sort of mental checklist in the security staff's head, they put him through huge inconvenience, arrested him, searched his house, took his cellphone's SIM card, took computers from his home, all without a warrant, simply because they had enough things crossed off to be able to mark him as "suspicious" (and thus use the Terrorism Act), despite there being absolutely no proof on his person.

If this gets done, thus moving the mental checklist into the computer, I can only hope there WILL be regular false positives (so that the security staff take it with a pinch of salt and use it as a guideline only), else they might suspect people unduly despite there being no cause for suspicion other than "the computer says so".

Re:Inadvertent false positives (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15355983)

Security staff aren't traditionally the sharpest tools in the shed... I don't think the "pinch of salt" thing will fly. Security staff regularly abuse the power given to them by a handful of terrists.

Re:Inadvertent false positives (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356029)

Fortunately, there are (some) competent and skilled security people we can point to as good eamples [schneier.com] .

Re:Inadvertent false positives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15359668)

I think that security staff are usually people that have wanted to become cops but been too stupid - and those that are too stupid to become security staff become bouncers.

Re:Inadvertent false positives (1)

Nick Jackolson (975606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356240)

Scary article, thanks for posting the link. I'd missed it at the time.

Anything is better than the BS in the US now. (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356282)

Airport security in the US, under the TSA, is anything but prevention. Its a stupid feel good charade. It would be better let to a machine to make false positives because at least then you know its not being done out of spite or bias as is now.

I have never figured out why my mother (63 years old) gets singled out at the security checkpoints as often as she does. Twice she was stopped because of the dog carrier (small dog - soft carrier) - once because she had to explain that you cannot put the carrier through the x-ray machine with the dog in it.

The real reason to find a way to let a machine make the call is because at least it can be viewed as impartial. It would be about the only way to have security instead of political correct neutered "security" we have now. Then again, in the US at least how can we have airport security if we don't even bother to police our own borders?

Re:Anything is better than the BS in the US now. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15364651)

It would not be neutral, to be of any use it has to be programs with senarios and cases that should alert officials. However when you do that in the US it gets called "racial profiling".
Same reason alot of people, such as your grandmother, get pulled over why they do not fit the profile of the problem maker they can be checked off as investigated so that when they do investigations on other people.

Re:Inadvertent false positives (2, Informative)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356436)

False positives tend to be quickly ignored if they happen to often. For instance, in the US a bunch of CIA operatives just recently decided to test US border security to see if the border guards would stop a truck filled with dirty bomb material. Not many people know this, but the US has radiation detectors along its border. The CIA drove a truck with dirty bomb material in from Mexico using forged papers. They set off radiation alarms, had their papers briefly checked, and were sent through.

Now, why did this happen? You would think that setting off a radiation alarm would result in papers getting a good checking over such that their forged nature would be revealed. As it turns out, the radiation detectors along the border go off all the time. They go off roughly a 50-100 times a day at some points. The border guards were so used to the detectors going off that they stopped paying any attention to them.

If a system gives false positives, the danger isn't that the security people will spend too much time examining false positives, it is that they will ignore all positives. I have a feeling that this security system is borderline useless because of this. I find it very hard to believe that this security system can tell the difference between a piece of luggage that is sitting all by itself in a suspicious manner and a piece of luggage resting at a guy's feet who has just put it down so his hands are free to read a newspaper.

Re:Inadvertent false positives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357049)

can you post a link to that?

very interesting

Re:Inadvertent false positives (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357527)

I couldn't find the old article I found that described how often the radition detectors go off, but these two articles imply it and talk about the CIA operation.

http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/nuke -weapons/nonproliferation/42576.html [bellona.no]

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&si d=a.6ODqglGQO0&refer=us [bloomberg.com]

* looks * bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356514)

They take away several mobile phones, an old IBM laptop, a BeBox tower computer (an obsolete kind of PC from the mid-1990s), a handheld GPS receiver (positioning device with maps, very useful when walking), a frequency counter (picked it up at a radio amateur junk fair because it looked interesting), a radio scanner (receives short wave radio stations), a blue RS232C breakout box (a tool I used to use when reviewing modems for computer magazines), some cables, a computer security conference leaflet, envelopes with addresses, maps of Prague and London Heathrow, some business cards, and some photographs I took for the 50 years of the Association of Computing Machinery conference.

I totally feel sorry for this guy - he has suffered unduly - but at this point in the article I couldn't help but wonder how bad it would look to those who haven't a clue what an RS232 breakout box is. GPS Reciever? Frequency counter? Radio scanner? Computer security conference leaflet? He might as well have slapped a Radioactivity warning sticker on his bag to complete the effect!

It's not that he should have justify his possession of any of these things to anyone - I refuse to succumb to the climate of terror (terra?) - but it must have looked like such an ambiguous situation to the officers who raided his flat. Slightly farcical, you couldn't make this up really!

Old Systems. Reinventing the wheel. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15355929)

I know of one security system where it just has a picture of a room and then when the camera is on it just looks for things that don't match the original, if those areas of non-matching do not move for more than X amount of time the system then draws a yellow outline around the object, if it still does not move in another X amount of time, the outline becomes red. The system is pretty good and adapts to furniture/plants being moved around by staff. Myself and others even joked about the cheese factor of using colours like that, but it was/is a very robust method of surveillance.

This system was in place in a casino, all the way back in 1998.

Why are these things being labled as new technolgy?

I'd be more impressed if they had a system that could scan and tag/match all faces/voices that it sees and hears in an airport.

Re:Old Systems. Reinventing the wheel. (2, Funny)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356469)

I'd be more impressed if they had a system that could scan and tag/match all faces/voices that it sees and hears in an airport.

Hell, I'd be impressed if they had a system that didn't lose luggage.

As for matching faces to voices in the airport, who really wants their conversations overheard by some lackey in a monitoring room?

And suspiciousness in that country is ... (-1, Troll)

s0l3d4d (932623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356056)

Great. That will make me feel so safe when I go to that country the next time.
I wonder if they can pinpoint what they consider "suspicious" with the CCTV better than they did in the real life? Unfortunately, based on first hand experiences, the people in that country do not score very high on tolerating diversity, so you may end up being on the suspect list for wrong skin color, hair color, facial features, unusual last name for the country mentioned on your passport... and that was already on the times of more 'analog' CCTV.

Re:And suspiciousness in that country is ... (0, Troll)

DMNT (754837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356322)

Unfortunately, based on first hand experiences, the people in that country do not score very high on tolerating diversity, so you may end up being on the suspect list for wrong skin color, hair color, facial features, unusual last name for the country mentioned on your passport... and that was already on the times of more 'analog' CCTV.
You must be a Swede, right?

Re:And suspiciousness in that country is ... (0, Troll)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356455)

You got it so wrong. Helsinki is in Finland, not USA..

Profiling suspects (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356539)

based on first hand experiences, the people in that country do not score very high on tolerating diversity


Based on my first hand experience as a Finn, I must say we do tolerate diversity very well. But there is a difference between not tolerating diversity and profiling suspects. Look at the photographs of people who have committed terrorist attacks in the last few years. See from which countries they come from. What is their religion. Thirty years ago, when the Baader-Meinhof gang was a terrorist threat, people with pale skin, blond hair, and blue eyes were tagged as terrorist suspects as well.


Of course, the fact that fundamentalist Islamic terrorists have black hair and olive skin doesn't mean that everyone with that description is a terrorist, but when the police must find a few terrorists among six billion people it helps if they can narrow their search somehow. One terrorist among a billion people is still a needle in a haystack, but it's six times easier to find him with an ethnic profile than without one.

wow... unemployment for (-1, Flamebait)

lordsid (629982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356132)

I guess this means unemployment for Captain Obvious.

We'll all be safer... (3, Funny)

slipangle (859826) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356505)

...once these cameras are connected to Skynet.

The real question is... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15356519)

Can this system be trained to sniff out illegal DVDs? [slashdot.org]

Obligatory Apple reference.... (0)

fizze (610734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356863)

Sounds like Airport Extreme, eh ?

3D analysis to reduce false positives (1)

ZenFodderBoy (975575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15356929)

MDI Security Systems out of San Antonio, TX has something like this called SenseEye VMD [mdisecure.com] , but it does 3D analysis using two camera feeds to reduce false positives. Makes it so someone can't just stand in front of an object to obscure it from the software or having a bug land on the camera lense causing mass hysteria. All in all, pretty cool stuff.

Re:3D analysis to reduce false positives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15357306)

Sensitive to the Eyes, VMD(View Mass Destructions)

Solves the telescreen problem (2, Interesting)

Neurotoxic666 (679255) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357067)

I may be a bit paranoid here, but I think it opens the door to a telescreen-like technology. The main problem in Nineteen Eighty-Four with the telescreen was that humans had to watch the two-way screens. So as a citizen, you may assume that maybe, no one is watching at this moment.

Now, if the technology is tried, tested and improved enough, why not put 'em everywhere. You know, juste like in London, to prevent crimes. Then vote some laws that says doing this or that is terrorist-like and then illegal. Then arrest more people.

Yeah, I'm stretching it. But you know, when the technology's there, available and working, there is no reason not to use it. Then you can mix techs and end up with nicer cocktails. Like an "ID tag canon" that shoots a tiny RFID tag on someone when the camera decides he looks suspicious -- it'll be easy to follow him. Then you bust his ass when he gets home and hope to find some pot or porn.

Ok, ok. Sci-fi gibberish. But still, if *I* can think of this, I'm sure many others can come up with worse than that. And apply it.

Re:Solves the telescreen problem (1)

Kris_B_04 (883011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357719)

Yeah, you are right... it is just another move toward big brother watching over us.

I hate the way society seems to be moving towards regular surveillance. (As if we haven't already arrived).

You would think, (but then who the hell am I kidding) that these sci-fi books and movies WARNING us / society about things such as this would not be the moves the government would make. Wouldn't they see that in the long run it would not be in their or our best interest? Don't those stupid government officials realize that people will stand for it only for so long? Free will and all that good stuff? (Rhetorical... I don't WANT to know the answers.. too depressing!! LOL)

If I were still teaching, I would be certain that as many students as possible would read things like 1984 and maybe just maybe if enough of the kids are educated about it, the world won't go to shit.

But then, when it comes to world matters, I'm a pessimist.

Hmm.. wonder if that is why I never made it as a teacher.. I made my students read things that made them think!!! No wonder I never received a teaching contract. I was a threat to societal control...

blah.
Is it Friday yet?

Kris

Big retailers have something like this already (2, Interesting)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15357772)

Several years ago I spoke with a friend of mine who went to work in the security department of a major retailer as a programmer. The project that he was working on was to design a system that would detect motions that would identify shoplifters, thieves, and other bad guys (like thieving employees). They used things like furtive movements and a person's route through the store to trigger the system that would sound the alarm and bring the camera online to a security officer. They used hundreds of hours of security video showing crooks doing their work to vet the system and they had it working pretty well. I would imagine that this is a system similar to what they are doing at the airport.

He did share some humorous observations about this work. The system would frequently target completely innocent little old ladies as potential shoplifters. Apparently their movements while on a routine shopping trip were quite similar to a crooks and the system was not able to differentiate between them.

Re:Big retailers have something like this already (1)

chawly (750383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15363905)

Hum. I think you show yourself to be overly naive and to have held on to some of your illusions with this bit:

The system would frequently target completely innocent little old ladies
Believe me, there are no innocent little old ladies ! They are all guilty ! The system doesn't lie ! George Bush has built a gulag specially for little old ladies ! Trust George to see the truth ! Believe the system !

Pentagon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15358283)

Maybe they should have installed those as the Pentagon security cams...

advancements (1)

lon3st4r (973469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15359824)

this is just one aspect of digital surveillance that has been publically mentioned. but there are systems being built that can zoom in on faces and take pictures. region-of-interest, motion activation, variable frame rate capture, target tracking and a multitude of other feature-sets are becoming standard in today's technology.

imagine what'll happen if all of this gets merged with something like http://riya.com/ [riya.com] 's technology. we'd have automatic person recognition. techology is racing ahead really fast.

I've used this system (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362684)

I've used this system (not at any airport). It is from Object Video http://www.objectvideo.com/ [objectvideo.com] . Its pretty good at knowing how long people stand around, and which way they are walking. Keeping track of "abandoned" packages is far tougher. But security people staring at 100 video monitors are notoriously bad at seeing things. Airports have a huge amount of space they 'need' to monitor. Cameras cost $10,000 apiece, so don't expect to see them in useful places, like in Safeway, any time soon.

I have to post anonymously because I work in this field.

Re:I've used this system (1)

chawly (750383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15363851)

Goody for you ! I noticed this bit

I have to post anonymously because I work in this field.
and wondered if you used the cameras to monitor cows or sheep.

Might be nice if the system could alert the security people to people who forgot to wash, are drunk, talk too much...etc. Perhaps you can do something to help the average air traveller ! Thanks in advance.

The ENTIRE Picture (1)

pqu3 (662466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371787)

Video content analytics can be useful at airports... Ive recently been working on such a system at a busy US airport. In practicality, alot of the algorithms mentioned here are not useful. Walk into a busy airport any day of the week and you can count dozens of travellers leaving objects unattended. Also, if I were leaving a package with a bomb in it at an airport, I'd put it in a garbage can or underneath something. VCA would miss that. I've found the more useful algorithms are people/vehicles entering restricted zones and flow control.

Also, there is a misconception that VCA is most useful with real-time alerts. I work on very large-scale camera networks, and I've recently been convinced that the more valuable peice that VCA brings to the table is making sense of the large amounts of video that large scale networks produce. If you have a 1000 cameras each storing 120 days of video, if you are trying to search your video archives... thats 120,000 days of video! You need tools and meta-data around that video to make your archives more effective.

Finally... and Ive seen this time and time again... the video systems and VCA at airports are disjoint with the incident management systems they employ. If you cant respond effectively to the alarms in the video... what good is the video! You need integrated systems here.
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