Making sense of CCTV footage and securing a future here and abroad
START-UP NATION Kinesense:Video tracking security start-up Kinesense focuses on international growth. Its software enables quicker, more efficient analysis of CCTV footage.
WHEN BUSINESS development manager Sarah Doyle first saw the video tracking technology created by Mark Sugrue as part of his PhD thesis, she says she recognised its commercial potential instantly. As a result she left her job at Amideon Systems and teamed up with Sugrue to develop the technology into a marketable product.
“We pitched the video tracking technology to potential customers including the gardaí and UK law enforcement agencies and customised it based on what they wanted and needed,” she says.
And so Kinesense was born. Incorporated in 2009, the company specialises in video content analysis, and has developed a tool for video retrieval and analysis aimed at law enforcement and security markets.
The company’s technology allows users to search through video footage using filters to pinpoint certain activity, according to Doyle.
The system works by indexing the CCTV footage and then allowing the watcher to pinpoint areas of interest, for example movement near a door or someone wearing a particular colour. It identifies objects based on their unique motion pattern, and can reliably identify humans, vehicles, colour and direction of movement.
An officer investigating a break-in can use the system to pinpoint a period on a CCTV tape that is useful rather than watching through the entire tape.
For example, if an ATM was vandalised by someone in the middle of the night, the investigating officer could use the software to detect at which times there was human movement near the machine, Doyle says.
“You could be 12 hours looking at footage to find out what happened. Furthermore, people often tire watching hours of CCTV footage and get distracted, missing important events on the video.”
“We recently got feedback from a police officer who had watched 30 hours of CCTV footage and didn’t see a certain van supposedly at the scene. He fed the video into our software and it picked the van up, so he’d obviously just missed it.”
The software can also be used to quickly retrieve image stills of a burglar or criminal from the CCTV footage, which can then be circulated to various police stations, according to Doyle.
She estimates the time required to search a piece of footage using the software can be reduced by 95 per cent.
“We have had excellent feedback from the marketplace. Our software is being used for in the investigation of serious crimes, murders and even petty crime such as vandalism.”
Alongside its search technology, Kinesense has developed a laptop-based unit that can be taken on-site by investigators. The mobile unit can make a secure, tamper-proof copy of the CCTV footage, which can be used for evidential purposes.
The company’s technology, which is helping the global war against crime, is currently being used by police forces, security agencies, Counter Terrorism Units and Serious Crime Units in Denmark, Ireland, the UK, Venezuela, Canada and North Africa.
However, the duo are quickly discovering it has a business use too, after British Telecom bought the technology to help stem losses of up to £2,000 a day through the theft of copper wire.
The telecoms company found thieves were stripping the valuable copper from utility poles and sub-stations, causing disruptions to the services.
The Kinesense technology allowed BT to analyse CCTV footage in 30 minutes compared with eight hours previously, speeding up the opportunity to arrest and prosecute thieves.
The company, which employs seven full-time staff, was initially supported by Enterprise Ireland under the High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) funding programme.
Last month it secured a further €620,000 syndicated investment to focus on its international growth strategy.
The funding round was led by Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, which contributed €500,000. The remainder of the money was contributed by BES (Business Expansion Scheme) and angel investors.
“We had to look at other markets for growth as Ireland wasn’t big enough, and there is a lot of budget restraints on various agencies and the gardaí. Over 90 per cent of our business now comes from abroad.”
“What’s good about our product is that it can be used by law enforcement officials and security agencies in any country. We want to license the software to agencies in more countries, especially ones where security is a big issue, such as South Africa.”
The start-up has been actively focused on research and development for the last three years, but now wants to move its concentration sales and development, for which it is actively recruiting people in this area.