Monthly Archives: June 2015

Amped FIVE Update: A Lot of User Interface Improvements

We have just released the latest update to Amped FIVE (build 7042).

This is primarily a bug fix and user interface improvement release, but we have some new welcome additions too.

First of all, there was one small issue that a few of our users asked to improve. Whenever closing the program or the current project, the software was asking if it was needed to save or discard the current project in a way which was a bit unconventional, sometimes confusing the users and making them click on the wrong choice.

This is an example of the old style dialog, up to the previous version:old-style-dialog

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Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) as a Silver Bullet, Vol 2: Quality

Volume 2 in our series on Body Worn Cameras.

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Let’s go through a thought experiment: we are a police officer about to enter into the pursuit of a suspect. Fortunately, in some cases we may not need to manually turn on our BWC because it has been programmed to do so upon sensing movement and other triggers. We begin running after the suspect and when we are close enough to the suspect we draw our service weapon and begin the process of arresting them.

Okay, how would this video look when viewed in court? First of all the video will be very shaky and due to the rolling shutter effect possibly distorted. “Rolling shutter is a method of image capture in which … each frame of a video (in a video camera) is captured not by taking a snapshot of the entire scene at single instant in time but rather by scanning across the scene rapidly, either vertically or horizontally. In other words, not all parts of the image of the scene are recorded at exactly the same instant”

 

Rolling_shutter_effect_animation

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Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) as a Silver Bullet – An Article Series

We have created a series of articles regarding the main issues of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) which we will publish in the next few weeks. Follow our blog to be updated with some of the concerns regarding this new digital evidence.

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In the digital forensics world, video evidence is nothing new and complex algorithmic analytical software has existed for many years working hard to process video footage into something presentable as evidence in court. If we think about how this situation will manifest after the inclusion of video data from BWCs we can identify that there will be a few key issues that need to be accounted for before BWCs become the solution everybody intends for them to be. These are footage integrity (compression and any lossy processing), stabilization of the footage (and other video enhancements), storage of the footage (HD video at h264 will require vast secure storage), law enforcement workflow, data protection and any social costs. While some of these technical issues can be corrected with software such as our Amped FIVE all of the other aspects are either very difficult or impossible to currently correct. In each volume in this series, we will look at an aspect or two in order to become informed on body worn cameras and their deployment, use, and effect.

Historically the main source of video evidence came from CCTV cameras, a static solution. The main issues with footage from CCTV cameras are resolution, compression (format is also an issue however easier to solve than the previous two) to which there is not really any software solution so the software focuses on things that can be solved in order to make the most of the data. These issues include motion and optical blurring, noise and stabilization as well as various environmental effects. With current BWCs recording in HD at 30FPS using current H.264 / AVC (Advanced Video Coding) we end up with much-improved source data than we were used to while working with CCTV.

However we should keep in mind that BWCs use a wide angle lens as well as compression, albeit a better one, and that will manifest as distortion from the wide angle lens and artifacts from the compression, making analysis difficult if not corrected.

Interestingly the secondary issues that we dealt with from CCTV footage have become the primary issues with the video from BWCs.

We now have BWC video evidence but how will it be stored, how much will that storage cost compared to the cost of not having this evidence, what is the stance on data protection and how will society respond to being further surveilled and having that surveillance stored?
There are also more complicated concerns that arise around the use of BWCs, from social issues such as privacy and data ownership/retrieval and ethical questions that the public are asking, to avoid tampering with evidence or the ability to circumvent the entire process to avoid the recording of evidence. Policy and BWC tech working in tandem with Cloud tech have made steps to address those concerns.

In the next post, we will go into detail with regards to BWC footage.

 

Amped Authenticate Update: Improved Clones Blocks Visualization

We just released an update to Amped Authenticate. It contains several improvements in the performance and visualization of the Clones Blocks filter, which is a very powerful tool to detect cloned areas in an image.

First of all, now different cloned areas will be marked in different colors, which will make life easier for the analyst to detect different manipulations.

Let’s take this picture, for example. Without scrolling down, are you able to identify what’s wrong?

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S-FIVE International Workshop

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Amped Software will be participating at the S-FIVE International Workshop on June 15-18, in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop is aimed at bringing together various parties that are active in the field of Forensic Image and Video Enhancement: forensic scientists, investigators, academic researchers, companies, etc. to discuss the results obtained from in-depth surveys about experts’ practices and the Collaborative Exercise which was dedicated to testing different tools and methodologies on some common set data.

The S-FIVE project is a project funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme; European Commission – Directorate-General Home Affairs, through the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) Monopoly 2011 programme “Improving Forensic Methodologies across Europe” (IFMAE).

It is an interesting project which aims to define guidelines for image and video enhancement in the forensic community and will study various issues related to the Standardisation of Forensic Image and Video Enhancement (S-FIVE). The main focus of the project is oriented towards techniques that are used for improving the quality of surveillance video data and other types of images that portray persons and objects at the macroscopic level.

Amped Software will present our findings as well as be on-site for product demonstrations.

For more details visit:
https://www.s-five.eu/mediawiki/index.php/Workshop
https://www.s-five.eu/mediawiki/index.php/About_Project_S-Five 
https://www.s-five.eu/mediawiki/index.php/News_and_Upcoming_Events