In this age of heightened concerns about national security and terrorist threats, a group of West Virginia University researchers has received a grant of close to $1 million to further research aimed at keeping Americans safer.

Natalia Schmid, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is the lead researcher on a U.S. Department of Defense-funded grant to develop distributed smart camera networks to detect and identify activities in urban environments. The research project will receive $986,248 over three years.

Schmid said that current camera network technology is insufficient because of the time and bandwidth that it takes to transmit, process and analyze video footage. This is typically done through a system of cameras that continuously monitor certain areas and then transmit the data to a central station for analysis and processing.

“The novelty of our design is in its distributed nature,” said Schmid, “where each camera or cameras has the capability to recognize activity, and to wirelessly and quickly communicate that information. These new networks will not require large bandwidth or storage space to achieve fast, reliable recognition, detection, and transmission.”

Schmid says that the new camera networks, when installed in public places such as a stadium, conference rooms, airports, city squares and other public locations, will be able to instantly detect, recognize, and alert authorities to abnormal events – such as an unusually fast or aggressively moving individual in a crowd, or a sudden increase in the number of individuals entering or exiting a room.

“When fully developed and implemented, the new technology will be fast, inexpensive, and reliable,” she added.

Other WVU researchers involved in the project are Brian Woerner, chair of computer science and electrical engineering, along with Vinod Kulathumani, Xin Li, and Matthew Valenti. All of the researchers are faculty in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Schmid received a master’s degree in applied physics and mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1991, a scientific degree Candidate of Technical Sciences in 1995 from Russian Academy of Sciences and D.S. in electrical engineering in 2000 from Washington University in St. Louis.

Schmid has also served as an organizer and chair of the special session, “Theory of Biometric Systems: from Statistics to Information Theoretical Limits” held at ICASSP 08. She has served as Guest Associate Editor for the 2009 special issue on Recent Advances in Biometric Systems: A Signal Processing Perspective to be published by the EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing.



Contact: News and Information Services
(304) 293-6997