Big Brother is watching in high definition

DHS' Science and Technology Directorate is testing a 360-degree, high-resolution video system at Boston airport

The Homeland Security Department is testing a new 360-degree video surveillance system at Logan International Airport in Boston that is described as offering high-resolution imaging and analytics without the distortion of the typical fisheye lens.

DHS' Science and Technology Directorate partnered with the Massachusetts Port Authority to evaluate the new Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) technology. The significant new capability of the system is its high-definition, image-stitching technology that seamlessly melds together images from several cameras in real time and without the usual distortion, according to a May 6 news release from the department.

“Whereas a typical fisheye lens distorts the image and can only provide limited resolution, video from ISIS is perfectly detailed, edge-to-edge. That’s because the video is made from a series of individual cameras stitched into a single, live view — like a high-resolution video quilt,” the news release said.

The cameras have 100 megapixels each, as detailed as 50 high-definition movies. The interface of the camera allows you to maintain the full field of view, while simultaneously zooming in on areas of interest.

Analytic software applications allow users to define zones of interest and provide an alert if that zone is breached. Another application allows the operator to choose a target to be followed, such as a person, package or vehicle, and the cameras will automatically tag and follow the target across 360 degrees.

“Video analytics at high resolution across a 360-degree field of view, coupled with the ability to follow objects against a cluttered background, would provide enhanced situational awareness as an incident unfolds,” the news release said.

Many of the capabilities were adapted from technology previously developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory for military applications. The Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory collaborated in building the new system.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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