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2007-03-30 Unnoticed watchers getting to know you


Growing numbers of cameras linked to better computers

can pick anyone out from a crowd


By Jon Van
Tribune staff reporter
Published  2007

     Police were unimpressed when told that hotel security cameras caught images of a suspect minutes after a burglary, but the cops changed their attitudes when given pictures of the alleged thief as they arrived on the scene.



            "They're accustomed to looking through video recordings for hours and hours to find anything useful," said Troy Strand, general manager of the Talbott Hotel near Chicago's Gold Coast. "Ours takes a few minutes. The police were shocked."

    Falling electronics prices and rising public anxieties have spawned an unprecedented proliferation of security cameras in urban areas, but police have found their effectiveness limited by an inability to quickly search through mountains of video. New technology has changed that, suggesting both a new security enhancement tool and a further erosion of privacy is at hand.

    "Pickpockets don't even come near our hotel because they've heard about our security," said Strand, who has 70 digital video cameras operating at the Talbott.


     The burglary happened about a year ago, shortly after the Talbott installed its new digital security system. Security Police caught a suspect hours after getting her photo.


     Software programs enabling computer systems to recognize faces and quickly search video files have long eluded the security industry. Success would mean not only quicker video searches but also real-time alerts to humans as a crime is in progress or, perhaps, even before.


Copyright : Chicago Tribune 2007

Excerpt provided by : Face-tek Technology Co., Ltd.

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