Camera technology eyes odd behavior

Surveillance alerts authorities to prevent crime

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, it was surveillance and other photos that helped catch the two suspects.

Now there is a company that says those same cameras -- such as Department of Transportation cameras used to monitor traffic -- can help prevent crimes like the bombing from happening in the first place.

It's a program that could be tied into existing surveillance cameras, and it looks for suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary behavior.

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Ray Cavanagh, of Crescent Guardian, a security and technology company pushing this product, showed it at a port security conference in Jacksonville on Thursday.

In one instance, in surveillance video at a train platform, a man puts something suspicious under a bench. The camera notices it and places a red box around it and alerts authorities.

"What we are trying to do is trying to identify though video feeds what ominous behavior is occuring," Cavanagh said. "If it's something out of the ordinary, then it warrants a second look and should be responded to."

It's not just packages. Cameras highlight other odd events, like showing a car actually following a train though a tunnel.

"It absolutely can help prevent a tragedy," Cavanagh said. "It's not a magic pill in and of itself. The video is out there. We know the video systems exists."

"It could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing. It could go either way," Channel 4 safety analyst Ken Jefferson said. "People at transportation facilities have bags, duffle bags. Sometimes they have suitcases and things. It depends on how this camera is intended to operate."

That is the question sheriff's offices have as well. Cost would be the issue. The company said outfitting an existing camera with this technology could run about $5,000. If it was implemented on 100 cameras around the city, that would be the equivalent of $500,000.

"Most Importantly, what is the cost of a human life," Cavanagh said. "A human life is worth trying to save, and if there is some security events that we can prevent, such as in the events that occurred recently, then I think it's well worth the price."

The Jacksonville Port Authority and other places are looking at the new technology. Nobody in town has decided it's something they are going to go to, but this could be the wave of the future.

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