Super-fast video search stands guard at the Statue of Liberty

Israeli firm BriefCam’s technology promises to save police hundreds of hours of wasted video watching

View of a BriefCam control panel interface (Photo credit: Courtesy)
View of a BriefCam control panel interface (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Heightened security and always-ready high definition cameras found on many cellphones today have joined forces to create an endless stream of images, both video and still, that pour into police stations and security offices all day, every day.

That deluge, according to Rachel Neiman of the Israeli firm BriefCam, is a problem that her firm stands ready to solve, by helping law enforcement and private security to quickly parse through endless reams of footage in order to find what they really need to see.

“The smartphone revolution especially, along with the heightened state of security since 9/11, have prompted more people to get involved and take video of events as they are happening,” said Neiman. “Law enforcement is very much in favor of this, but they have been inundated – sometimes overwhelmed – by the amount of footage they have to go through. That’s where BriefCam and our new Syndex GV product comes in.”

With the system, specific security incidents and events can be quickly isolated, and investigations into incidents go much more quickly. Instead of having to watch endless hours of nothing happening, BriefCam automatically finds the portion of the footage that shows something happening.

BriefCam Syndex GV is a next-generation product designed specifically for government needs based on the company’s video synopsis technology, in which users can find events of interest, reach targets quickly and take action as required. The system, said Neiman, is easy for anyone to use, and can save hundreds of hours by enabling viewers to skip through long hours of non-events and pinpoint the specific sequence of events that require attention. The product was announced this week at the Homeland Security Conference in Tel Aviv.

Briefcam’s systems 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 specific incidents they are interested in — such as movement near a security fence, or an individual moving about in an area where they are not supposed to be. The synopsis presents simultaneously 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 simultaneously in a condensed video clip.

In addition to fast video review, the new Syndex system augments the basic video synopsis by providing users with a powerful set of tools for searching video according to attributes that they define: size, color, speed, direction and location within the frame. All parameters are under the user’s control, even the order of objects displayed. Like all search engines, BriefCam Syndex ranks results in order of probability to ensure the most relevant events of interest are presented first.

The Statue of Liberty. (photo credit: Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
The Statue of Liberty. (photo credit: Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Earlier this year, BriefCam’s technology was used to set up a video surveillance system at one of America’s greatest landmarks, the Statue of Liberty. The BriefCam system was part of an overall solution by US security company Total Recal to totally revamp the video security system using top of the line and state of the art technology, replacing the previous system, which had been badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Total Recall reached out to relevant authorities (the U.S. Park Police, the National Park Service, and the Department of Interior), with the company offering to do the work gratis (neither Total Recall nor its partner companies are getting paid for the work, the company said).

“As security cameras proliferate, more and more investigations are crowdsourcing video from the public for intelligence gathering and post-event investigation,” said Dror Irani, CEO and President of BriefCam. “More evidence is a boon to investigators but also means hours, days and even weeks of video are collected – that’s where rapid video review is absolutely essential. Crowdsourcing also increases the need for greater control over privacy. This offering meets the needs of government agencies and was developed in response to direct feedback from high-profile users already employing BriefCam successfully in the field. These include the departments of defense, the law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence communities in North America, Europe, China, the APAC region and, of course, Israel.

“Two years ago, we won the iHLS Innovation Award 2012. Since that time, our product line has matured, our client base has expanded, and BriefCam has been used and recognized for its role in major criminal and homeland security-related investigations,” said Irani. “For all of these reasons, we’re proud to be able to announce BriefCam Syndex GV at Israel HLS 2014.”

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