UK police are using a semi-automated video analysis system to slash the time needed to review video footage to isolate suspected criminal behaviour.
The system, developed with police at Birmingham University and sold by Sycron, cuts the time needed to review a 24-hour tape to 40 minutes.
Peter Morriss, scientific support manager at Humberside Police, which has been deeply involved in the project, said the proliferation of CCTV meant police had a vast amount of data to review in any investigation. "Normally we have to review video footage pretty much in real time, so any help we can get is valuable," he said.
Mike Wilks, CEO of Sycron, said, "If all police surveillance footage was analysed manually, we estimate it would cost nearly £1.25bn a year."
He said most other automated reviewing systems rely on image compression for speed. "Sycron uses an algorithm that analyses changes in pixels from elements such as time, place, height, ambient light, width, proximity and direction of travel as parameters to identify suspicious activity," Wilks said.
"This makes searches faster and also leaves the original images untouched. We can also configure it to raise an alarm if a suspicious or pre-defined event happens in real time."
The system is installed at 48 UK police forces, the FBI, and the US Airforce has just bought it to monitor activity at 50 airbases, Wilks said. Sycron is now also being offered to commercial users.