Software flags potential riots or fights; Making sense of vast data with technology

Software flags potential riots or fights

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 – 06:30

Lim Yan Liang

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The group comprising Airbus Defence and Space and IT firm NCS produced a system which automatically zooms in on a face for analysis without the need for an operator.

This is done by attaching a second camera with face-recognition software to existing CCTV cameras installed by the police or other agencies, said NCS vice-president of communications engineering Wong Soon Nam.

The consortium also created a crowd-counting software that, when used with CCTV cameras, can detect over-crowding or a sudden increase in crowd size that could result in a fight or riot.

Using microphones, the software can detect aggressive behaviour or fights as they happen and alert the police – a useful tool that could have helped avert the violence in Little India last December.

The same system can be used to automatically scan video feeds for a particular vehicle via its plate numbers and perform database checks to fill in missing numbers, among other things, before it confirms a match.

The group also wrote software for national water agency PUB that would trigger alerts when cameras detect localised flooding.

Government agencies in China, Hong Kong and Australia have already expressed interest in the technology created from this test bed project, added Mr Wong.


Making sense of vast data with technology

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 – 06:30

Lim Yan Liang

The Straits Times

Imagine a Singapore where the police can know within minutes of a crowd forming the likely emotional state of those in the mob, as well as identify people within it who have criminal records.

Such a capability, if available last year, could have given the police the upper hand when they were responding to the riot that broke out in Little India on Dec 8.

But it may not be long before such technology becomes a reality, judging from projects showcased at the Safe and Liveable Cities forum last week by four consortiums which participated in the Safe City Test Bed.

The test bed was launched by the Government in May last year and it involved security and technology firms such as Accenture, NEC, AGT International, Hitachi, O’Connor’s, Airbus Defence and Space, NCS and Oracle.

The companies were grouped into four consortiums and given the challenge of pooling disparate data sources from the various agencies, analysing the information and using the data to create an early-warning mechanism for emergency responders.

“Realising our limitations, we turned to the private sector and gave them access to our problem statements and, more importantly, to our operational data,” said Senior Deputy Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry Khoo Boon Hui during his opening address at the forum.

“We challenged them to use this data to create and validate breakthrough technology that will improve our situational awareness, sense-making, trending and forecasting capabilities.”

As security agencies around the world face budget cuts, it will become increasingly necessary to use technology to make sense of the data collected from tools like closed-circuit television cameras, he said.

He added that it is especially pertinent in times of panic, disaster and crisis, when security officials need to act fast.

“We recall how the identification of the Boston Marathon bombers through video surveillance has led to a renewed interest in its use in cities around the world,” he said.

“For that incident, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was flooded with digital images from television crews, private sector surveillance and the public.

“In the first 72 hours, the FBI received over 13,000 distinct images, 2,300 videos, 9,600 calls and 5,500 tips from the public. It is indeed a daunting task having to deal with information overload, especially with finite resources.”

He said ideas from the test bed can help security agencies sift through such vast amounts of data, distinguish innocuous events from serious threats and improve emergency response times.

“The sheer amount and variety of data collected by the Government means agencies can no longer rely on manual processes to retrieve actionable information.”

With the test bed drawing to a close, the Government will conduct a feasibility study at the end of this year to determine which of the technologies can be put into action, said the Economic Development Board (EDB), which worked with the Home Affairs Ministry to organise the initiative.

“The participating government agencies are in the process of assessing the technologies to enhance our operational capabilities,” said an EDB spokesman.

There are also plans for more of such test beds, he added.



About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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