Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/01/police_eye/
Police offered robot eye
Intelligence gets 'intelligent'
A firm that produces surveillance software used by numerous British police forces is looking for one of them to test its latest wheez, a programme that automatically scans CCTV footage for suspicious behaviour and matches it with other intelligence such as mugshots.
The new software, by Nice Systems, can alert police when it detects loitering, crowd gathering, people running when they should be walking, tail-gating, parking in the wrong place, unauthorised entry, or any sort of behaviour the police want to track.
John Chetwynd, technical consultant for public safety at Nice Systems, said: "We are looking for British police to do a beta trial."
Police forces using older versions of Israel-based Nice's software include, Devon and Cornwall, Hampshire, Herts., the Met., South Yorks., and Strathclyde.
Nice software can also be used to spy on telephone conversations and internet traffic. Prisons, casinos, airports, banks, call centres, transport networks and 75 per cent of the Fortune 100 companies use the system for these purposes, as well as analysing CCTV footage for suspicious behaviour. Police forces are busy establishing control room links with town centre and other public CCTV networks.
Nice software is used to scrutinize conversations, email communications and CCTV footage using different software programmes. The new system, called Nice Inform, gives the user the power to do all these things from one desk in a control room.
It can apparently automatically identify someone on a telephone using voice biometrics and detect what they say, alerting the authorities when people say keywords. It can also detect the emotion in a human voice. According to Fox News, Nice software tracks 45m corporate calls a day. "There is no more excuse for poor service because now they will know what is going on," a Nice representative told the station.
Nice says total surveillance allows companies to "improve quality, productivity and profitability". It is the ultimate Fordist stopwatch and clipboard.
Intelligence agencies use Nice software to analyse vast amounts of data gleaned from direct "trunk" links into public telephone and internet communications network, "without the need to rely on network operators", according to Nice.
This is the sort of dragnet intelligence gathering that has caused recent uproar across the Atlantic, with the US secret police, the National Security Agency, facing a court hearing this month over allegedly spying indiscriminately and without a warrant on all civilian telephone and internet communications using a trunk link into the public network and software like that developed by Nice.
The Nice system analyses intelligence data, making comparisons from different sources and derived from the activity of different people, to detect certain behavioural patterns it thinks might be a sign of illegal activity.
The old system relied on predicting future events from past records, said its annual financial return last month. The new software would take advantage of the "vast amounts of data" being collected by voice and video surveillance systems operated by companies and intelligence agencies.
"By employing software-based analytics on unstructured multimedia content, companies are able to detect customer intent, often through near real-time interactions where a customer may express concerns, desires or provide other signals of their intentions," said the statement.
The same advantages of crime prediction will be conferred on the security services, it said: "Our solutions enable our public safety and security customers to identify threats as they occur, and analyze video footage to identify suspicious objects or behavior more quickly and effectively."
It said Nice would have to spend a "significant" amount of money on marketing to persuade security agencies to change their modus operandi to "proactive security management". It spent $72m, or 23 per cent of revenues, on sales and marketing in 2005.
The rate of error in the older, less sophisticated Nice software is thought to be about 5 per cent. An application that Nice is fond of promoting is analysing CCTV footage in airport terminals to detect when someone leaves a bag unattended. It is use by international airports to reduce the cost of evacuation when a "suspect" package is spotted.®