Homeland Security sharpens up surveillance

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Department of Homeland Security has developed a new type of surveillance camera which allows it to scan public areas much more thoroughly.

Current cameras, once they zoom in on a dodgy character, then lose sight of the rest of the scene.

But the new Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) uses image-stitching technology to take views from a number of individual cameras and join them together seamlessly.

It's all done in real-time and, unlike with a fisheye lens, there's no distortion.

"Coverage this sweeping, with detail this fine, requires a very high pixel count," says program manager Dr John Fortune. "ISIS has a resolution capability of 100 megapixels." That's as detailed as 50 full-HDTV movies playing at once, with optical detail to spare. You can zoom in close… and closer… without losing clarity."

The interface allows maintenance of the full field of view, while magnifying a focal point of choice at the same time.

One app can define an 'exclusion zone', for which ISIS provides an alert the moment it's breached. Another lets the operator pick a target — a person, a package, or a pickup truck — and the detailed viewing window will tag it and follow it, automatically panning and tilting as needed.

The device can be bolted to a ceiling, mounted on a roof or fastened to a truck-mounted telescoping mast. It's all to fight terrorism, you understand.

"We've seen that terrorists are determined to do us harm, and ISIS is a great example of one way we can improve our security by leveraging our strengths," says Fortune.