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Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Future Of Smart Cities

Much like smart homes, smart cities aim to connect and protect while creating a more efficient living space. While smart homes and connected devices are slowly gaining in popularity, smart cities are working on becoming the next big trend.

To aid in a speedier adoption, a Smart City Forum has been created, which consists of CIOs and leaders from cities around the world. The forum allows cities to utilize top academic research with applied studies of various Internet of Things projects and smart technology.

Atlanta is among the cities involved in the Smart City Forum, and they are currently engaged in a pilot project. This project includes efforts to improve public safety, transportation, and water monitoring.

For public safety, plans for installation of smart security cameras are in place. However, this type of public surveillance can cause some uneasiness among residents. Aware of the concerns, officials plan on working with privacy experts and keeping things transparent when it comes to the technology and devices they employ. If residents oppose any plans, officials are dedicated to working with them to create a solution.

Aside from this, they are also aiming to improve transportation and water sensors. Traffic light synchronization is one of the ways they plan on improving traffic conditions. 300 miles of fiber optic cable will be laid to create a city-owned network, which will likely support the advanced traffic control system along with video surveillance and other smart city data. The excess capacity will end up being leased to raise money. Free Wi-Fi will also be available, however, the size of the Wi-Fi mesh network has yet to be determined.

Other plans include implementing license plate capture cameras, smart LED lighting atop smart poles, water meter sensors, and even smart city trash cans.

As expected, there will be lots of data that needs to be evaluated, and Atlanta will take care of that with the help of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. They will run the big data analytics and report back on their findings so that the city can understand what they need to do to improve.

These pilot projects and the Smart City Forum will hopefully give other cities insight to what works and what doesn’t, as well as the size of the budget necessary to employ these technologies and systems. What are your thoughts on smart cities? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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New Surveillance Hub

It’s true – surveillance footage can provide beneficial evidence when trying to prosecute and charge criminals. However, a better way to utilize security camera resources is to actively monitor the live feeds, which, in turn, can lead to improved response times and increased safety.

That is precisely what a new security operations control center (SOCC) in Washington is aiming to do. Opened in November of last year, the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) is using this new center to solve and prevent crime within the public transportation system.

Within the SOCC, surveillance footage is displayed from a large projector onto the front wall. Suspects’ photos are displayed on flat-screen televisions around the room and there is a police bubble that overlooks the floor. In the police bubble are dispatchers and call takers who log emergency complaints and text tips and relay the information to officers in the system.

The same operations were previously offered, however, not housed in the same room. Now that all teams are gathered together into one area, communications are faster and more efficient than before. And with a price tag of $3.6 million, this fruitful investment is proving its worth.

With a comprehensive security camera system, authorities are able to effectively monitor all areas public areas. When crimes occur, witness statements can be corroborated with surveillance video, providing a solid case against criminals.

What are your thoughts on this new surveillance hub? Should it be adopted in other states? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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What Are Super-Recognizers?

When it comes to security and surveillance, facial recognition technology can greatly improve effectiveness. Aside from this advanced technology, did you know that there are a few people in the world who are deemed “super-recognizers”?  Super-recognizers have superior abilities in recognizing faces, even after seeing a face for a fleeting moment. For example, a super-recognizer can catch a glimpse of a person’s face and still be able to identify the person years later. These people are very rare, making up less than 1% of the population.

According to scientists, we have brain regions solely dedicated to face recognition. We also look at faces as a whole, taking note of different features and characteristics, unlike the way we look at other objects. Should you damage a face recognition area of your brain, you could develop prosopagnosia, or face blindness. A look at how the brain of a super recognizer versus someone with prosopagnosia versus an average person gives us insight to how the brain works and what sets these individuals apart in terms of recognition and processing.

With the use of eye tracking technology, psychologists have found that when looking at faces, most people typically focus on the eyes. This suggests that they eyes may carry important information for facial identity. Interestingly enough, some people with prosopagnosia tend to avoid the eye area and look at the mouth instead. Super-recognizers, however, tend to spend more time looking at noses. This challenges the previous belief that the eye region is the most important for facial recognition, shifting the focus to the center of the face instead. It is likely that more studies will be done or recreated to test the theory of the center of the face being the optimal region for facial recognition.

Because of their exceptional identifying abilities, super-recognizers are valuable for law enforcement and security. For example, London’s Metropolitan Police have a super-recognizer unit which works to spot suspects in crowds or on CCTV surveillance footage. This unit has proved successful thus far, showing that there is a promising future for super-recognizers.

What are your thoughts on the future of facial recognition technology? How will super-recognizers influence our surveillance practices? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. Want to test your face recognition abilities? Take this test to find out.

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Safety Tips For Winter Hikes

Hiking is a great way to get your body moving, heart rate pumping, and take in the beautiful outdoor scenery. While it’s a great way to get active, it can also be a dangerous task. Especially during the winter, when temperatures are lower and natural sunlight is fickle, it’s important to prepare. Here are some tips to help you complete a safe winter hike.

If you want to go on a hike, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Be sure that at least one person knows that you are going on a hike and where. Winter weather makes hiking conditions more difficult, so even seasoned hikers may not be able to handle the trails like they normally would.

Appropriate Attire
Layering your clothing is a smart way to keep warm. However, too little or too many layers can cause problems. You want to maintain body temperature while protecting your extremities. If you lose blood flow to your hands and feet, it will be difficult to warm them back up once you set out. Alternatively, too many layers can cause you to overheat and sweat through your base layers, which can quickly chill when you stop hiking.

Ideally, your base layer will consist of synthetic fabric or wool, to keep you warm while pulling sweat away from your skin. Your insulation layer is next, which should work to trap in your body heat. Stacking thinner layers is more versatile than using one heavy layer. The shell layer is the last layer and should balance water resistance and breathability. You should also add gloves, hats, and appropriate footwear and accessories as you see fit to keep you safe and warm.

Early Start
Because sunlight can be limited in the winter, it is best to set out early for a winter hike. This should give you ample time to complete your hike before the sun sets and darkness and colder weather take over.

If you’re going on a winter hike, it might be better to go on trails that you have taken before to minimize your chances of getting lost. Or, you can do your research to get a better understanding of the path you will be taking. So long as you have ample connection while you are on your hike, you can download and use specialized GPS or trail apps on your smartphone to help lead the way.

Safety First
When in doubt, play it safe. If there are warnings that different parts of the hike may be unsafe, be willing to turn around and cut your hike short. Icy conditions can cause you to slip or fall, so be sure to watch your step.

Do you have any winter hiking tips to share? Any trails you would recommend? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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