Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interesting development in the body-worn video discussion

This just in from Ars Technica, "Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator from Missouri, says police departments nationwide should require their officers wear body cameras in order to qualify for the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they receive each year."

You read that right, the Senator wants to tie federal money that police agencies currently receive to compliance with this proposed nationwide body-worn video mandate.

"The lawmaker did not offer legislation to support her words. McCaskill, however, is not alone in her thinking. Last week, an online petition asking the White House to require all police departments to wear lapel cameras hit 100,000 signatures. The President Barack Obama administration has promised to publicly address petitions reaching 100,000 signatures."

The movement to get agencies to adopt body-worn video recorders is not new. Many agencies have declined to purchase recorders due to the high purchase price and the cost of maintenance, as well as the cost of storing / distributing the recorded footage.

But, linking the issue to existing federal funding puts a new twist on the story. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

If a CCTV camera records an incident, it has failed to prevent that incident from occurring.

@spreadys pointed out an interesting article about the role CCTV has in fighting crime. The best part of the article are the comments at the bottom.

The best one, "I'm sorry, but bragging about 500 arrests from 41,000 incidents is truly pathetic. It just shows how useless CCTV is. If the incidents took place in front of a copper, the arrest rate would have been worth crowing about. People aren't bothered about being spotted on camera."

There's another comment that links to this article. “For every 1,000 cameras in London, less than one crime is solved per year.”

"Each case helped by the use of CCTV effectively costs £20,000 to detect, Met figures showed."

"The report, written by Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who runs the Metropolitan Police’s Visual Images Identifications and Detections Office, found that the public “have a high expectation of CCTV and are frequently told they are captured on camera 300 times per day”.

Public confidence was dented when the police often stated there was no CCTV working when a crime has been committed, it said.

It also said that increasingly members of the public were complaining that officers had not bothered to view available CCTV images when trying to track down criminals.

It disclosed a “significant rise in the level of complaints from the public, where it is perceived that police have not viewed CCTV. This is now approaching 100 per year.”

The report found that untrained officers were often downloading and viewing CCTV images in their hunt for evidence. The cameras were effective in crime-fighting if the images and information from them was used properly.

Detective Superintendent Michael McNally, who commissioned the report, admitted there were “some concerns” about how CCTV was being used."

Monday, August 25, 2014

World Science Festival - the Science of Justice

If you're in the NYC area, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will play host on Sept. 10th to the WSF's Science of Justice discussion/presentation.

They use the events in Ferguson to put the spotlight on "forensics," but miss an important point: none of the presenters are experts in digital video or small device forensics.

It's a given, these days, that there will be two elements to every crime scene - CCTV and mobile phones. People use their phones to record video of traffic stops and other police activity. Traffic stops take place in front of stores and other places with CCTV. Thus, these images become a vital "silent witness" for the investigation. Yet, this presentation does not feature this valuable piece of evidence, nor any practitioners of this type of analysis. That's unfortunate.

Still again, if you're in the area, it should be an interesting discussion.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Crowdsourcing content analysis

The online site, bellingcat, recently announced results from their crowdsourced investigation into the location of the Islamic State's training site in Iraq.

It's an interesting study in the use of publicly available sources to identify the location depicted in photos through visual content analysis, as opposed to relying on metadata.

Check it out here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How do you determine the dpi on a photo in a PDF document?

Many folks use Adobe's Acrobat to share reports, images, and video. Often times, we're asked to extract the images from a PDF file for use elsewhere. Depending on the downsampling settings, the images in a PDF might not work well outside of the document.

Here's how to check the resolution of the image within the PDF file.

If you have Acrobat Pro, you can use the Object Inspector in Output Preview to see the resolution of an image. Select View>Tools>Print Production>Output Preview, then change the Preview Type to Object Inspector and click on the image in question. Here's what you'll see.

223x452 @ 150 is like one of those old wallet photos we used to get with our school picture packages. It's not big. Some serious up-sizing will be needed if you want to use this image in a courtroom display.