Quicker, More Efficient Use of Surveillance Videos

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, have recently introduced new software that increases the efficiency of surveillance video cameras. While examining footage in order to recognize threats is critical, it is also a cumbersome job, which takes too much time. Now, the new computer software, dubbed BriefCam, can process recordings in order to create shortened”video synopsis” of the entire captured video.
 The short synopsis is made possible by simultaneously presenting multiple events that have occurred at different times. (Source: HUJI)
The short synopsis is made possible by simultaneously presenting multiple events that have occurred at different times. (Source: HUJI)

The usage of surveillance cameras is extremely common, since they give police forces the ability to monitor large areas easily. However, browsing through all the data consumes time, and it requires much manpower, though this work is highly valued. For instance, since the 9/11 attacks public areas such as Times Square are constantly monitored. Because of these demands, authorities have been looking to improve current methods.

Recently, Professor Shmuel Peleg from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) has presented a solution to this problem in the form of sophisticated computer software, capable of generating a very short video preserving the essential activities of the original video captured. The result is minimization of recorded video; for instance, a recording covering a full day can be summarized into a video that is only several minutes long.

The concept behind this latest invention is separating the static background and the moving objects, referred to as “events”. The short synopsis is made possible by simultaneously presenting multiple events that have occurred at different times. The software allows the viewer to choose any event and revert to the original video, in order to thoroughly examine what happened. This YouTube video demonstrates how the new software can improve the methods in which security officers survey large areas.

One of the milestones achieved only in the past few months is the reduction of synopsis length. “The reduction in synopsis time means that eight hours of footage, which once might have taken six minutes to browse, can now be watched in three or four minutes,” say Gideon Ben-Zvi, Chairman, President and Co-founder of BriefCam, the Israeli startup company that received the patent license.

When asked about other improvements, Ben-Zvi says: “the Area of Interest feature was developed in response to customer demand. Processing capacity is now double on the same hardware. Along with a more pleasing and user-friendly interface, these features all work together to better enable security personnel to browse hours of video in minutes, so that our vision of ‘Total Video Review’ at the beginning or end of each shift can become part of their daily routine.”

 This sophisticated computer software, capable of generating a very short video preserving the essential activities of the original video captured. (Source: HUJI)
This sophisticated computer software, capable of generating a very short video preserving the essential activities of the original video captured. (Source: HUJI)

The BriefCam system comprises of a hardware unit that connects to a LAN consisting cameras and DVR/NVR. The end user can access the BriefCam summary and index using a software client running on a PC. Although the videos are processed in the BriefCam server, the synopses are available for watching soon after being recorded. The technology developed byProfessor Peleg combines a visual summary of stored video together with an indexing mechanism; when the end user requests to summarize a time period, all objects from the desired time are extracted from the database, and are shifted in time to create a much shorter summary video containing maximum activity.

Peleg’s work received acknowledgement in the form of this year’s Kaye Innovation Award, given by HUJI’s Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering. The marketing rights of this software have been given to Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University.

TFOT has covered other surveillance-related stories, such as DARPA’s newest camera, which has an unprecedented resolution of 2.3-gigapixels, and the super-quiet unmanned aerial vehicles developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Other related TFOT stories include the Scallop Imaging Surveillance Camera, a seven-megapixel surveillance camera that records in high resolution without fisheye distortion, and the DragonFly X6 helicopter, an unmanned helicopter designed specifically for remote controlled digital photography and digital video streams.

For more information about BriefCam, see the company’s website.