Millions of security cameras capture constant video at businesses and retail locations throughout the U.S., but for the most part their footage is only useful if someone shoplifts and cops need to check it out. But there’s a wealth of data buried in that video, from customer density to crowd shopping preferences. A new startup can analyze surveillance video to help business owners see what their customers do, in the way websites can easily track online shoppers’ browsing habits.
In Washington, D.C., where there are plenty of powerful people and precious places to protect, the cops have lots of high-tech tools at their disposal. But one tool, automatic license plate readers, could become much more than a crime-prevention device. D.C. police maintain the country’s densest network of plate readers, and keep a three-year database of license plate locations — meaning they can track where everyone’s car is, all the time, whether at the grocery store, an ammunition shop or Planned Parenthood.
Forget cops on the beat. Crime-fighting tech now involves gunshot detectors, video surveillance, a virtual "community patrol" system that allows people to report crimes via text messages, and trainable software sensors that can recognize violent behavior.
The burg of East Orange, N.J., once a haven for crack dealers and gangs, has seen a dramatic drop in crime rates because of its focus on technology, according to an AP story.
While retina scans still give a James Bond feel to security, and finger prints have a bit of retro charm, the cutting edge of biometric identification has moved to a new body part: the nose. According to researchers at the University of Bath, England, the nose is both unique and easily scanned in a crowd, making it the perfect biometric identification marker.
Bringing the "wanted poster in the post office" concept into the 21st century, the FBI has begun using facial recognition software to identify fugitives on North Carolina highways. The software measures the biometric features of thousands of motorists' DMV photos, matching them against mugshots. When the face matches that of a known criminal, the authorities jump into action.
As the U.S. campaigns against terrorism, new technologies will move to the front lines.
By Frank Vizard
Posted 12.13.2001 at 12:45 pm 2 Comments
At 5:45 a.m. on September 11, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari passed their bags through an X-ray machine at the Portland International Jetport in Maine. A surveillance video camera recorded their faces for posterity. Atta, a man believed to have links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, walked calmly, wearing a blue dress shirt and dark pants. Alomari, in a white shirt and khakis, clutched a black bag, checking its contents. Three hours later, they and three other hijackers on American Airlines Flight 11 crashed a jetliner into the north tower of New York City's World Trade Center.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.