Panasonic tests advanced cameras in Van Houten Library

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Changes are coming to improve safety systems on campus.

Public Safety’s Chief of Police, Joseph Marswillo, and Sergeant Mike Villani revealed that Panasonic Corporation has agreed to test their facial recognition security software at NJIT. Very soon, Panasonic will complete installation of their specialized cameras in the Van Houten Library.

“We [Marswilo and his team that pushed for systems] were part of several police organizations nationwide, and so we send feedback back and forth. Someone from another state asked a question, ‘Why are there so many thefts in our library?’” said Chief Marswillo.

They had out an idea: have a camera with a screen at the entrance of the library for functional purposes. It discourages theft and lets students know that the library is being watched.

The screen also serves another purpose. “If people are coming in, looking down, it impairs the camera,” said Sergeant Villani. Because of the overhead monitor, people coming in are inclined to look up, and thus the camera can get a better glimpse of a person’s face.

The entire suite is Panasonic developed. The software tracks facial patterns and can be gender specific. The suite taps into a blacklist database that lists individuals that Public Safety has encountered before. If an individual with a history with Public Safety (or other law enforcement) is seen, it can cross-reference the facial features with the database of around 1 million photos.

“It is so advanced that you can narrow your search to have a photo match almost identically,” said Sergeant Villani. “Pictures can be easily put into the system. Administrators can put photos as time goes on.”

Upon a high percentage of match, the suite sends a pop up to a console at headquarters. The pop up explains that there is a positive match to someone listed in the blacklist and brings up a photo of the individual in question. It also provides basic already obtained pedigree information. Attendants at the desk can then confirm a match and dispatch officers as needed.

“The Panasonic developers working in the library have already tested it,” said Sergeant Villani. “They have already gotten responses for a whitelist of subjects that they tested on the cameras.”

The cameras are currently being installed in the Van Houten Library, and are nearing completion. The team assembling the cameras are now waiting for the camera mounts, with the cameras themselves being fully functional. The receiver for the pings from the cameras must also be set up in dispatch.

“The cameras are not currently coming anywhere else –like I said, it is a trial. We are trying to utilize what technology is possible. There is a lot of good stuff out there. I am definitely one to look at the different systems and evaluate what works and what doesn’t,” said Chief Marswillo. “This is some of the most advanced stuff out there. With blossoming technology, as the years go on, as everything is perfected, this will probably become the standard of security systems.”

About The Author

Stephen Chan

Executive Editor of the NJIT Vector. A computer engineering student that loves writing, I took it to the newspaper.

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