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From:  "James Northstar" <>
Date:  Wed Jun 4, 2003  11:58 pm
Subject:  DIVA: the eye in the sky

click here

Distributed digital video arrays, or DIVAs, are collections of really
smart cameras able to detect and identify an individual in a crowded
train station and track him wherever he goes -- out of the station,
into the parking lot, onto the freeway and so on.

They also notify authorities when they "think" the individual engages
in suspicious activity or meets with questionable cohorts.

You can watch for these DIVAs in summer 2004.

The Department of Defense awarded $600,000 to University of
California at San Diego's Computer Vision and Robotics Research lab
Friday for further development of DIVAs, cameras that see, think and

Granted through a federal counterterrorism interagency task force
called the Technical Support Working Group, the funding is slated to
help CVRR redirect these intelligent camera systems from their
initial intent, which was preventing traffic delays, to stopping

For the past four years, CVRR's DIVAs assessed traffic patterns,
located accidents and notified firefighters of emergencies, according
to Mohan Trivedi, director of the DIVA project and professor at
UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. This year, the DIVA technology
provided extra security at the Super Bowl, both around the stadium
and in San Diego's Gaslamp district.

"The local police wanted to make sure the crowds weren't unmanageably
large and rowdy," Trivedi said. "Our integrated system (analyzed)
crowd sizes, not individual people. If the number of people exceeded
a certain limit, notification would be sent to authorities."

Trivedi's research and development focus is shifting from crowd
control to what he calls "personal security" for important locations.

"Instead of having guards for 24 hours consistently," Trivedi
said, "we have the DIVA architecture that can immediately detect and
provide hi-res video of certain events."

Even with the advent of the Department of Homeland Security and
orange security alerts, round-the-clock guards have never been
feasible for every national landmark or "important location." But
cameras, installed and mobile, just may be.

On a sunlit pier, moonlit corner or crowded sidewalk, or in a
deserted back alley, DIVA systems can observe an individual or group,
anticipate behavior and trigger complex chains of camera-to-camera
communication if the system determines that someone looks, moves or
behaves in a certain way.

The capability to identify a man automatically based on his facial
structure, or to locate a woman digitally based on her distinctive
gait is not what makes DIVA special. The Department of Defense has
been contracting with developers of those technologies for years.

What's unique is the DIVA systems' ability to communicate with each
other automatically and intelligently in order to better detect and
then follow individuals, according to Trivedi.

"Face-recognition systems being developed by other groups are not
foolproof," said Trivedi. "Sometimes they identify a person as X and
they are not." Trivedi's DIVA architecture improves upon
identification technologies by adding the elements of wide-area
surveillance and the ability to adapt to dynamic events, so a person
is not tracked solely on digital facial recognition.

To explain how DIVA surveillance works, Mohan described what he
calls "interesting events." An interesting event might, for instance,
be two massive objects colliding, stopping and then one of the
objects speeding away earlier than the system considers normal.

Upon observing this scenario, the DIVA system might report a possible
hit-and-run to the police as it alerts other cameras that it predicts
the runaway vehicle might pass. Those cameras in turn anticipate the
car's path and continue notifying cameras in various locations to
detect, identify and track the vehicle until authorities stop it.

"The biggest challenge we have is defining what is 'an interesting
event,'" said Trivedi, who confirmed that the Department of Defense
would assist in identifying visual cues and circumstances to trigger
the intelligent cameras from casual observation to active

The watchful eyes of all those cameras have raised the eyebrows of
privacy advocates.

"We see something we warned about called 'mission creep,'" said Mihir
Kshirsagar, policy analyst for the Electronic Privacy Information

"You have cameras that are supposed to be monitoring traffic and red
lights," Kshirsagar said. "And now they say, 'Let's look at the
people and crowds.'"

EPIC, along with other advocacy groups, is lobbying for regulation of
unauthorized video surveillance, such as that performed by DIVAs.

"Take the analogy of wiretapping there must be an audit trail,
procedures and rules for how you collect and use that information,"
said Kshirsagar, who said such laws do not exist for capturing video
images of individuals.

The only trail Trivedi is concerned with, however, is the one his
cameras must learn to predict and follow. Since Friday's research
grant announcement, he has added more researchers and developers to
his team in order to build a powerful indoor/outdoor camera system.

"Not just for lampposts, but mobile," Trivedi said.

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