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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Software to keep soldiers safe

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency selected UA’s computer science department to develop software for a smart surveillance camera.

The software will allow the camera to identify behaviors in what it records.

With a $2 million grant, the project, known as the Mind’s Eye Program, is enlisting four universities nation-wide to develop the software and expects to finish within five years.

In its early stages, the group hopes to develop software to “”classify activities like someone riding a bike down the road,”” said Paul Cohen, principle investigator and computer sciences department head.

Cohen believes the device would be more specifically used by the agency in Afghanistan to prevent roadside bombs. After the camera identifies a behavior, it will then alert the individual in charge.

In their online project brief, the agency anticipates “”a significant increase in the role of unmanned systems in support of future operations.””

This means surveillance would not need constant human attention, saving time for the teams in charge of securing an area in a war zone, as well as resources and personnel, according to Cohen.

After the camera alerts the person in charge, then it’s up to the team to identify further action that needs to be taken.

Veterans on campus tend to disagree with the project’s usefulness to soldiers on the ground. UA veteran Jared Taylor finds a lot of problems with the project, since the cameras‘ purpose is not clearly defined. Taylor said there was “”no way you could expect results from a point scan.””

Having served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places in the Middle East, he spoke of his experience in the war zone where women and children were carrying improvised explosive devices under their clothes that would not be detected by the camera. 

Taylor thinks the device would not be useful to soldiers on the ground except in the case of incoming fire from a rocket that is not easily visible.

Bryan Casler, also a veteran, brought up a similar British experiment, saying they are now switching back to solely human surveillance of areas because cameras often lead to false positives.

“”Leaving judgment to a camera is problematic in use””, Casler added.

Both agree the money funding the research could be better used, with Taylor noting that the money could go towards something “”that’s actually useful … and will save people’s lives.””

According to Casler, the veterans need help at home with 6 percent of returning soldiers actually graduating from college.

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