BriefCam launches CCTV video synopsis technology

Published 3 February 2009

Video synopsis technology allows one day of surveillance camera footage to be condensed into a few minutes, thus allowing security personnel to focus on evens that require attention while reducing costs

In the days immediately following the summer 2007 terrorist attacks in London,  the police spent days watching hours and hours of CCTVs images before they were were able to identify with certainty the suicide bombers who carried out the attack. It is likely that 99 percent of the millions of frames watched were irrelevant for the process of identifying the culprits, but the police had to go through them anyway because there was no way, in advance, tell which frames would carry the image of the terrorists entering the underground station. This is reminiscent, up to a point, to the problem the U.S. intelligence community was facing in the days before 9/11: U.S. satellites and other listening devices picked up and recorded so many hours of so many phone conversations among so many terrorist suspects, that there were not enough translators to translate the mountains of material, and not enough analysts to analyze it. Law enforcement and intelligence officers thus did not get to — did not even know about — the relevant 9/11-related conversations until well after the event (this is not to say that had FBI agents learned earlier about the plot being hatched, they would have been able to stop it, because the conversation that were picked up were rather vague and imprecise).

The London and 9/11 examples point to a major problem in an age when the means of gathering information have improved dramatically. The problem is the old needle-in-the-haystack problem: The only thing more frustrating, and more debilitating, to an intelligence officer than having too little information is having too much of it. Having to contend with too much irrelevant information — and most of the information gather by the Hoover vacuum cleaner-like means the intelligence community uses is irrelevant — makes it more difficult to identify and act on the valuable and actionable information.

Start-up BriefCam is doing something about this problem. The company is offering a systems for video synopsis and indexing of surveillance camera content. The technology allows for one day of surveillance camera footage to be summarized into as little as a few minutes, thus allowing rapid review and indexing of captured video.

Video synopsis provides a summarized video clip of the original full-length video footage. The synopsis is made possible by presenting concurrently multiple objects and activities that have occurred at different times. Clicking on any individual object or event in the clip brings the original unabridged video for targeted review.

Security and intelligence personnel can use the video summarization for rapid review of captured video to assess reported incidents and occurrences — but also for uncovering incidents that may never have been exposed in the past owing to the high cost of manual video review. The company says that the technology would be especially helpful to municipalities, transportation centers, border control, banks, office building management, retailers, and others who use video surveillance.

Current CCTV technology makes the review of video surveillance footage a costly and time intensive task often requiring a large team to view and analyze captured video,” said Gideon Ben-Zvi, chairman and president of BriefCam. “BriefCam’s technology is key to giving police departments, airport security personnel, store managers, homeowners and practically anyone using video surveillance the ability to react faster and more efficiently.  In conjunction with existing surveillance solutions, video synopsis will take the CCTV industry to new levels of effectiveness.”

The company says that when used in conjunction with existing video surveillance solutions, video synopsis facilitates the review of captured surveillance video at rates of up to 1000 times faster than is currently achievable. “Most captured video is never examined, unless a high priority incident, such as a terror attack or murder, warrants the expensive review,” noted Ben-Zvi. “As such, many cases of misconduct go undiscovered. Our ability to provide rapid, cost efficient video browsing will revolutionize the investigation of security breaches, fraud, terror incidents and internal threats as well as serving to improve employee performance.”