METRANS

11-05 Application Development of Urban Tomography for Transportation Security at a major Los Angeles Transportation Hub (LATH)

Project Number

11-05

Project Summary

Application Development of Urban Tomography for Transportation Security at a major Los Angeles Transportation Hub (LATH)

Project Status

Complete

Year

2011

Topic Area

Safety, Security, & Vulnerability

P.I. Name & Address

Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 317
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
krieger@usc.edu

Co-P.I.

Professor, Department of Computer Science; USC Viterbi School of Engineering
University of Southern California
3710 S. McClintock Ave.
Ronald Tutor Hall (RTH) 412
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2905
United States
ramesh@usc.edu

Project Objective:
Past METRANS-funded research has led to the use of video-equipped smartphones (with WiFi and 3G, and GPS) in transportation security applications. The application, termed Urban Tomography, allows multiple users of smartphones to make videos and have them automatically uploaded through the Internet to a secure site, so allowing for many slices or views of a situation (hence "tomography"). Security or law-enforcement personnel at transportation facilities can use our system to monitor threats, counter surveillance by hostile agents by recording those acts of surveillance – with the convenience of an always-available smartphone and automatic uploading of videos (tagged by place, time) to the web and a secure website available to supervisory personnel for real time analysis and archived for retrospective searches. A pilot program for the use of these smartphones has been in place at a major Los Angeles Transportation Hub since January 2009.

This research aims to take the knowledge gained from the pilot program feedback, as well as improved technology, and make the system more compatible with security personnel needs. For instance, smartphones are energy hungry, and thus methods must be developed to balance energy costs of various transmission means (WiFi, 3G) with delay-tolerance of applications/users. Because video (ideally, high quality video for surveillance and security needs) transfers require a high bandwidth, alternative transfer methods are necessary to develop, such as "summary" videos. In effect, "summary" videos are time lapse photography, uploading perhaps one frame out of thirty initially, and then later sending the full video depending on the availability of bandwidth. Additionally, GPS does not work well indoors, and various alternative methods of location finding need to be adapted to the system. Furthermore, while initial research focused on developing the Urban Tomography system on the Symbian OS platform, since at the time of our initial work only the Nokia N95 phone had the relevant capabilities, this research aims to adapt the system to other platforms such as Android. (iPhone OS is for a smartphone camera that does not have the requisite quality.) Finally, the major unsolved problem is how to deal with a corpus of videos that may number in the thousands, so that security personnel can find videos of interest readily. This will involve the initial time/space tags on the videos, speech-to-text processing of audio on the videos to find further tags, and, more speculatively, visual analysis methods to tag each video with further information. It is possible that a "display assistant" that would enable an analyst to readily find related videos will need to be developed.

Task Descriptions
(1) Complete requirements analysis, intelligent summarization, and begin port to Android
(2) Continue field testing, and evaluate system use by security personnel. Move users to Android, incorporate energy-efficient location tagging. Start exploring automatic content tagging.
(3) Incorporate automatic content tagging features for our LATH users. Prepare an experience report on the use of this system at LATH, and possibly other computer science research publications arising from the experiments, as well as from our evaluations of the system.

Milestones, Dates:
(1) August 2010 – November 2010
(2) December 2010 – March 2011
(3) April 2011 – July 2011

Total Budget:
$50,000

Student Involvement:
One graduate student at 50% effort, 9 months

Relationship to Other Research Projects:
Related to 08-12, 09-05; part of the safety, security, and vulnerability focus area

Technology Transfer Activities:
Project report will be posted soon

Potential Benefits of the Project:
Improved, more efficient security at transportation hubs

TRB Keywords:
Data and Information Technology, Aviation, Passenger Transportation, Safety and Human Factors, Security and Emergencies, Terminals and Facilities

Primary Subject:
1p.1 To develop smartphone technology that can monitor threats, counter surveillance by hostile agents and automatically upload videos to a secure website – available to supervisory personnel for real time analysis and archived for retrospective searches.