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New Curtin technology makes campus safer

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Curtin’s own innovative research is being used to help keep its Bentley Campus safe around the clock.

The University has installed a new mobile surveillance system, Virtual Observer — developed by Curtin’s Professor of Computer Science, Svetha Venkatesh and Dr Stewart Greenhill, with transit security company Digital Technology International (DTI) — on the top of three of its security patrol cars and a campus shuttle bus.

Professor Venkatesh said that Virtual Observer provided the ability to add cameras and specialist data recording equipment developed by DTI to vehicles to create a mobile camera network.

The benefit is far greater coverage and flexibility than a traditional static surveillance and CCTV systems, Professor Venkatesh said.

“This sort of technology helps to create a safer environment because it is fixed to the top of a vehicle and is collecting information 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

“The system captures full 360 degree vision of each location the vehicle moves around the campus.

“This allows locations to be viewed from different angles, which can prove helpful when viewing an incident on camera.”

Groundbreaking aspects of the technology are its use of Global Positioning System technology, and the time stamping of footage. These allow instant access to vision based on either time or location.

“We can pinpoint a location on a map of the campus and access footage available at that time from any vehicle that has been past that location,” Professor Venkatesh said.

“This provides a significant time saving compared to looking through every minute of footage from a camera and trying to work out what the camera is pointing at; particularly where there are multiple cameras involved.

“Virtual Observer will enable a more efficient response to incident reports.”

Professor Venkatesh said Virtual Observer could be used for crime prevention, policing, intelligence collection, counter terrorism and to assist in the assessment of insurance claims and court actions.

She hoped the technology, which Curtin has developed with transit security company Digital Technology International over the past several years, will be picked up by public transport authorities for use on trains and buses.

Curtin’s Director of Asset Management, Graham Arndt, said a trial program of the Virtual Observer had proved extremely successful and prompted the University to adopt the technology full-time.

“We believe that by adding the Virtual Observer to the set of tools we already have available, we can increase the level of security on the Bentley Campus for students, staff and visitors,” he said.

“We now have a way to monitor activities on any part of the Campus and we will be able to pre-empt many security issues, and quickly respond to those that do still occur.”

Mr Arndt said the technology would also allow Curtin security staff to view footage of incidents and help identify the people involved.

Visit the Virtual Observer website for more information.

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