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.”

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