High-Tech Surveillance System Blankets Boston For Marathon

Image: High-Tech Surveillance System Blankets Boston For Marathon A surveillance camera on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 08:18 PM

By Jason Devaney

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A high-tech surveillance system consisting of cameras connected to a network that uses a form of artificial intelligence is reportedly in place in Boston and along the Boston Marathon route for next Monday's race.

In the wake of last year's terrorist attack that killed three spectators and wounded more than 250 after two bombs exploded near the finish line, authorities elected to install the security system ahead of this year's event to keep the city safe from future attacks.

According to IT Pro Portal, Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc. owns the network, called AlSight.

The system works by observing normal patterns of human behavior, which establishes a baseline. After that, AlSight looks for behaviors that conflict with what it knows as normal. When something suspicious happens, the system will flag it.

"Our system will figure out things you never thought of looking for," said Wesley Cobb, the company's chief science officer, in the IT Portal story. "You never thought to look for a car driving backwards up the entrance of a parking garage, for example. Our system will find that and alert on it, because it's different from what it usually sees. It's taught itself what to look for."

The surveillance system is already being used in Chicago and Washington, D.C., according to the story.

After searching through 13,000 videos and more than 120,000 photos, the FBI caught a break by spotting one of the two men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing two days after it occurred last April.

“A photo analyst in Boston going through the video again and again and again, noticed this video that has not been seen in public, in which the first bomb goes off," said CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.  "You don’t see that, but everybody in the shot in the video looks suddenly to their left in shock and surprise, except one guy. He doesn’t look, doesn’t turn around, isn’t surprised and he walks away.

“And earlier in that video he had placed a backpack on the ground. Twenty seconds after he walks out of the frame, the backpack explodes, killing an eight year-old boy [Martin Richard], taking the leg from his seven-year-old sister, and wounding many other people right there around that backpack.”

Four days after the bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a fierce firefight with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his brother and the second bomber, was captured later that day.

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