Thursday, July 14, 2011

The city we could have

Is it possible to have safer cities? Cities which are easier to transit, cleaner, more competitive, in a greater balance with the environment? We are convinced it is. These days we have a wealth of knowledge which, if used in a planned and careful way, could significantly improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of any city. For us, there is no doubt about it.

You surely have seen, either on our website or the intranet, that Smartmatic is riding the wave of Smart Cities. We want to invest in this concept and we are already doing it. We know how to work with governments, especially with those from developing countries, where these developments are most needed. We also have great knowledge of advanced processes and technologies. So, if we combine these two elements, together with our capability to understand the local and particular circumstances of every place where we work, we can create sustainable solutions to local problems. This places us in a very privileged position.

Our base hypothesis is that by applying urban planning and design methodologies together with the deployment of innovative technologies, we can optimize the way a city operates and have a significant, positive impact on coexistence, mobility and ecology.
  • What would happen if every inhabitant of a city could exert a direct influence on the decisions and priorities of local governments? What if everything were so transparent that any of us could have visibility or even be able to audit the projects being executed, especially those in our neighborhood? 
  • Many of us spend a large part of our day stuck in traffic jams. What effect would fluid traffic have on a city's productivity and our quality of life? Would it be possible to create adaptable traffic control systems which could optimize both the private and public mobility of a city in real time? 
  • Every day security agencies face rising crime rates and budget constraints. Could an intelligent remote surveillance platform extend the reach and impact of our security forces? What if we could foresee the occurrence of natural disasters and their impact on our cities? How many lives could we then save? What would that be worth to us?
  • How much time would we save if many of the time-consuming errands we do today manually were instead automated through the Internet?
  • These days our cities are plagued by refuse. We are literally swimming in it. How do we get rid of it? Moreover, is there a way to profit from all the garbage we produce? What if we could produce electricity or drinkable water from it?
  • Much of the energy we generate today is wasted. How could technology help us optimize the distribution of the energy we generate?
How different would our environment be if we could do all of these things? We ask ourselves these previous questions each day, and we have many answers already. We have begun to apply many of them as a mix of technological innovation, business vision and local knowledge. Our goal is to apply innovative technologies within business models that allow for the long-term sustainability of these initiatives, while adapting it all to local circumstances. We are certain that we will be successful.

I invite you all to share with us this new Smartmatic experience.
Paul Babic

Monday, July 11, 2011

Video as digital evidence, from the camera to the courtroom

These days citizen security is one of the biggest issues worldwide, competing closely with unemployment and education.  Violence has a negative impact on social development and the traditional schemes employed to address it are based solely on police strategies, criminal justice and penal systems which underestimate the complexity of the problem at hand.  

Facing this complex reality, public security organisms have been forced to shift the focus of their concerns, from an organizational model based exclusively on law enforcement to a smart version of security management which sets priorities and cares about the cost-efficiency relation, the quality of the services provided and the efficacy of adopted policies.

Although security management is still a developing field, the new technological platforms available already offer a significant improvement in the forensic analysis capabilities for the application of justice. Just like in the medical field, remote surveillance continuously brings about new miracle cures. The benefits range from its dissuasive effect, to a preventive approach through early detection of suspicious activities and the supply of hard evidence during investigations.   

Video as evidence to certify what happened during an incident: this is the natural response to our digital environment, to the increased appraisal of information and its uses, to the development of new spaces where it is employed; to the degree of maturity reached by digital technology in terms of capture, coding, storage and transmission; to the technological advances of, among other devices, video cameras, IP networks, communications, and video management and analysis solutions that have allowed for an exponential boom of remote surveillance systems during the past 10 years.  

Video analysis is the latest application setting the trend in this sector. Video analysis, intelligent video and video content analysis are all terms that define the capability of mathematically detecting, recognizing and analysing objects and events by the means of digital video. A report by IMS Research predicted that the video analysis market would grow to USD 3.4 billion in 2010. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the IP video surveillance industry as a whole, though: according to ABI Research, the sector finds itself in a key inflection point between analog and digital technology, and could go from USD 13.5 billion in revenue in 2006 to USD 46 billion in 2013. In the United Kingdom alone, there are right now over 4.2 million cameras, one for every 14 people, and the number keeps growing.   

As per Smarmatic estimates, a multinational company that designs and deploys these technological solutions, the average person is captured on video between 8 to 10 times a day, and so is the average criminal. This explains why video evidence has become more frequent in crime scenes than any other type of forensic evidence. The capability of obtaining detailed information from video evidence has a tremendous potential for clearing up facts: it is the new raw material for investigators.      

Intelligent video studies and their applications in the security field show a very promising future, and the disciplines involved in its research and development are several. Forensic informatics is making its entrance as an auxiliary discipline of modern justice, and as a reliable defender of the truth contained in digital evidence which can contribute to the administration of justice.
Meyling Fois