Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Student Options

Posted on: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 12:17:32 -0400  by: G. Snyder

The recent London bombings have opened many eyes to the potential level of surveillance we may find ourselves under in this country. According to the UK Financial Times, Britain now has in operation over 4 million CCTV cameras! These cameras do not appear to have had much of an effect on stopping terrorism but have helped considerably in the identification of terrorists after attacks. Research continues in the development of surveillance cameras, face-recognition software, ID cards, phone monitoring systems, chemical sensors, RF ID and other anti-terrorism technologies.

For example:
  • ObjectVideo in Reston, Virginia, has developed software that detects unusual video patterns such as abandoned bags or suspicious movement. Systems using this software are currently being used in military bases in the United States, Europe and Asia.
  • Nexidia, a voice recognition software company in Georgia, is developing speech recognition software that filters thousands of hours of recorded conversations looking for specific key words. Gartner says $140 million worldwide was spent on security based speech recognition software in 2004.
Most surveillance is currently done by monitoring mobile telephone conversations and the fear is, with terrorists knowing this, communications will go back to age old mouth-to-ear-to-mouth methods, leaving authorities in the dark. Other methods need to be developed that identify terrorists before they attack. Catherine Yang, and Kerry Capell in London and Otis Port in New York have an interesting article in the August 8, 2005 edition of Business Week. In the article they discuss several developing identification methods including DNA, saliva, body odor, breath, video gait recognition and RFID identification.

As long as we are under some level of threat many will not object to a rapidly ramping level of surveillance (we won’t get into civil liberties here but it is a serious concern we probably all have thought about). As it stands right now development in this area will continue will continue at a swift pace.

Much of work done in these emerging fields requires a cross disciplinary background at a level higher than an AS degree. It is important we give our Community College grads the option of moving in different directions whether it be directly to work with a two year degree or on to a four year program with all 2-year degree courses accepted.

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