Viseum Considers its Technological Solutions to the Home-Grown Homeland Threat
After the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings, the Boston Marathon Bombing was merely a reminder, to America and other democratic nations, that we exist in a much-changed world. Today, people, ideology, opinions and even weapon technology can pass with ease through porous national and electronic borders. The carnage on the streets of Boston on 15th April 2003, was also a timely reminder that not all terrorists are “international” and that a domestic threat can be posed by asylum seekers, their families and relations, and indeed US Citizens, if they are subjected to radicalization. In a world of great disparity, vulnerable and potentially disaffected people can be strongly influenced by the deluded web-based ideology of extremist organisations and global terror networks. The threat, although typically small-scale, can potentially spring up in any of our city streets, schools and backyards with all the apparent ferocity and fervour of a fully-fledged jihadist campaign. The most significant and worrying aspect of this “glocalisation” of the extremist threat, is that when it materialises, it can be with little warning and no intelligence alerts. This amplifies the shock, terror and paralysis felt by the country, which in turn is inevitably further exploited opportunistically by extremist propaganda.
To some decision-makers, the challenges presented by an ever-present “glocalised” extremist threat, are just too overwhelming to contemplate. Our leaders assume that with no strategic intelligence leads, nothing can be done to stop a home-grown extremist or deranged gunman from striking. They assume that sufficiently motivated individuals will eventually make a successful attack. As a result, the authorities tend to focus on first response, emergency management, investigation and prosecution as the only pragmatic options. After all, to counter a potentially ubiquitous threat, one would need ubiquitous security presence: eyes and ears across every city, mall, transport hub and border. This is entirely at odds with the ideals of freedom and privacy that western nations in particular hold so dear. Moreover, to date, even the most secretive and reclusive police states have been unable to generate the means with which to saturate large, complex, populated cities and business environments crisscrossed as they are by multiple thoroughfares and ingress/egress points. However, decision-makers lack all the information they need to make an informed policy choice.
There is technology currently available which can deter extremists, detect and disrupt a potential attack. The same technology will offer decision support to incident commanders and provide law enforcement and judiciary with all they need to interdict, detain and indict the perpetrators. Crucially, this computer-controlled, Intelligent CCTV technology has better range and coverage than any other conventional manned video surveillance system. Moreover, the Viseum Intelligent CCTV remote monitoring capability simply isn’t interested in the activities of the wider innocent population. In order to understand the capability, it is first important to understand the threat and the context within which it may manifest itself.
If an extremist wants to conduct a successful attack and also escape from the scene, it is highly likely that they will reconnoitre the area and rehearse their actions and egress routes in situ. They may also need to move equipment into position, using multiple visits – as was the case during the Westgate Shopping Centre attacks in Nairobi. If such activities were spotted by keen-eyed security guards, police or appeared to be tracked by a video operator, then it is possible that the extremist would be deterred, detained, or at least displaced (and go elsewhere)! Effective means of deterrence and detection are therefore rare and highly prized capabilities among Homeland security professionals.
There are of course times when an extremist will not be deterred and a truly unpredictable and spontaneous act of violence occurs. America is all too familiar with the “rogue shooter scenario”, where a deranged individual with a grudge opens fire or explodes a device against innocent people, with absolutely no warning. This type of individual is hell-bent on causing casualties and damage. Both Fort Hood and Sandy Hook School bear tragic witnesses to this. During a spontaneous extremist attack, the chaos is almost overwhelming. Emergency services and incident commanders need to know exactly what they are dealing with. They need to know what happened, who the perpetrators are, where they came from and what they are doing now. But with panic rife and security operators overloaded – ascertaining who the previously unknown attackers are, where they came from and what they are doing – is all but impossible. Both human and conventional CCTV video technologies are woefully inadequate in delivering the Situational Awareness required. Gaps in video coverage, massed data buried within video servers and multiple reports from civilians and security staff all enormously complicate the issue. This proved to be the case in the recent Navy Yard shootings in Washington DC, where panicked reporting lead the authorities to suspect initially that there were multiple shooters involved. Understandably, this made for an unfocused and cautious response. Gaining situational awareness is an absolutely fundamental requirement for any security professional in an emergency scenario.
When the perpetrator is eventually located, both incident commanders and their specialist teams will need high levels of decision support in order to develop and execute a plan under fast-moving and complex conditions. Should the perpetrator attempt to escape, veiled by a panicked crowd, or making a fighting/fleeing withdrawal, then it is absolutely essential that there are suitably agile and accurate means of tracking their movements – delivering not only the means of arresting the individual but providing the authorities with conclusive evidence to secure a successful prosecution and post-event analysis and lesson identification. It can, therefore, be said that within any attack scenario, seamless acquisition and tracking of the perpetrator aids security professionals in not only locking him down – but locking him up too!
Viseum’s Intelligent Moving Camera (known as the IMC) and Intelligent Virtual Operator Software (iVOS) have the capability to automatically deter and detect attackers before they act. Each IMC camera array can cover a 360-degree panorama and autonomously control high-powered pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) zoom slave-units to gather detailed evidence. The Viseum iVOS Virtual Operator learns its environment and the normal pattern of life. The system discerns unusual activity (suspicious behaviour, violent action, or a wanted individual/vehicle (from an intelligence database) within a sea of mundane activity. iVOS notices a bag left unattended or a backpack being placed in a trash can. Upon detecting unusual, suspicious or dangerous behaviour, iVOS will automatically alert human operators. It will also autonomously track the potential suspects – allowing remote CCTV monitoring staff to guide security or police patrols in via smart devices or radio. In the event of an absolutely spontaneous attack, the Viseum iVOS will alert a human operator and provide incident commanders with the situational awareness they need to ascertain to exactly what is happening and who is involved. Imagine the value of a situation report with this clarity: Individual tagged 101 (shown here) arrived through security gate 3 at 11 am; security pass matches staff number and name… Tagged staff member 101 proceeded unaccompanied to building 7 and at 11:35 am (shown here) opened fire with an automatic pistol; 4 casualties (at these locations…); building 7 empty; gunman 101 (shown here) currently alone under ceiling mounted security camera in room 2; no other shooting events have taken place; no other movement within the prescribed cordon.
Using its Find Fix and Follow (F3) algorithms, Viseum iVOS, and Intelligent Moving Cameras are at the very pinnacle of Intelligent CCTV and take remote monitoring to an entirely new level. It uses fewer cameras to cover more ground than any other camera. It has no gaps in coverage and the intelligent Virtual Operator never looks in the wrong direction, gets tired or distracted. It offers a ubiquitous solution to a ubiquitous threat! Viseum iVOS would have spotted early threat indicators in Westgate and resolved any confusion in Navy Yard. Retro-compatible with existing cameras, Viseum iVOS offers the CCTV security authority, should they wish – the ability to screen all but suspicious or worrisome incidents, from human operators: thus solving the conundrum of enhancing Public Safety without compromising their privacy. For these all these reasons, this extraordinary counter-terrorist technology would similarly be a boon to hospitals and care homes or in schools – where we are often shocked by the rampages of gunmen amongst our youngsters.