An Israeli company is part of a security “dream team” whose collective talents are being deployed to defend one of America’s greatest landmarks — the Statue of Liberty. Briefcam, an Israeli video technology company that allows viewers to quickly parse through hours of footage in seconds, swiftly zeroing in on the important incidents, was tapped to handle surveillance duties.
Like almost everything else in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was inundated with water when Hurricane Sandy struck on October 29, 2012. Most of Liberty Island, where the Statue stands, was flooded, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage and making it impossible to visit the monument for over eight months. Even now, some parts of the island are undergoing repairs.
Sandy was a traumatic experience for New Yorkers, and in many ways has left a lasting impact on the city — as did another traumatic event, the 9/11 attacks, a decade earlier. If Sandy’s legacy was to spur development of ways to prevent damage from storm surges — like the construction of a seawall to protect communities from floods — 9/11’s legacy was to significantly increase protection on airlines, at government buildings, and at national monuments like the Statue of Liberty. Repairs to make Liberty Island and the Statue once again fit for visitors began almost as soon as the storm was over, and the site reopened to visitors on July 4, 2013.
Also badly damaged was the video surveillance system that had been installed after 9/11, and that gave officials of US security company Total Recall an idea; to totally revamp the video security system using top-of-the-line technology. Total Recall reached out to the relevant authorities (U.S. Park Police, National Park Service, and Department of Interior), with Total Recall offering to do the work gratis (neither Total Recall nor its partner companies are getting paid for the work, the company said).
Total Recall won the contract, and began assembling its team to build and install a state-of-the-art surveillance system. Among the partners are companies providing the camera themselves, the wireless network technology to transmit images, the equipment for storage of the video — and Briefcam, which will help security officials more easily narrow down relevant incidents.
Briefcam’s Video Synopsis is an image-processing technology that creates a summary of an original full length video, providing a complete representation of all relevant events occurring during hours of video footage. Reviewing video using Briefcam speeds up the job considerably — as much as 1,000 times faster, said the company.
Briefcam’s systems (Syndex and VS) analyze and separate video into background (all static, non-moving objects) and foreground (moving objects). Moving objects are extracted and descriptions inserted into a database, so viewers can focus on the specific incidents they are interested in — such as movement near a security fence, or individuals moving about in areas where they are not supposed to be. The synopsis simultaneously presents the multiple objects and activities that happened at different times — with an index to the original source video, online video feed and offline archival footage — for on-the-spot event tracking, forensics and evidence discovery. Real time rendering is then used to display the desired objects and events concurrently in a condensed video clip.
The Briefcam technology fits right in with the surveillance system Total Recall put together. The Briefcam system handles digital video, which is the heart of the surveillance system. Each morning, security personnel review the footage taken throughout the night by the nearly 160 IP cameras installed throughout Liberty Island. With the new system, they can examine the video for relevant incidents in a matter of minutes, instead of having to watch or fast forward through the entire segment. However, this is still no guarantee against missing important incidents, given the strong possibility of a lapsed attention span and human error, Briefcam said.
“We assembled a Dream Team of cutting-edge security technology providers to give her the best protection possible while helping the Park Police, Department of the Interior and National Park Service deliver a memorable experience for the millions of families who visit the Statue each year,” said Jordan Heilweil, President of Total Recall. “All of our partners are proud to be part of this mission, as well.”