A Solid State plc group company

Providing advanced imaging products, embedded systems and solutions

Thermal image of police personnel watching a drone in flight

Fighting crime with cutting-edge vision

February 15, 2024

We know that the security and defense sector has embraced computer vision for enhanced surveillance and recognition capability, but imaging technology is also proving useful for more covert crime fighting too. Here are some fascinating examples.

Counter-drone systems keep prisons clean

Homeland security agencies face a constant battle to keep drugs and weapons out of their prisons. In line with the growth of the drone market, more and more UAVs are being used by criminal contacts to breach prison walls and deliver contraband to inmates. As the UAVs progress to fly higher for longer and with greater payloads, the race to catch the enablers on the outside becomes harder.

In the US, several counter-drone manufacturers are working with law enforcers to create legislation to allow them to bring the battle back to a level playing field. Currently, RF-disruption systems are only authorized to be operated by the US government and its representatives but a change to this limitation could lead to fewer illegal substances and arms within prison walls. While it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to use live ammunition to shoot these illicit drones out of the sky just yet, camera systems used to understand where they are being launched from, and gathering real-time high-quality imagery for use as evidence in prosecutions would be valuable defenses.

Our Harrier autofocus-zoom cameras are suitable for use in counter-drone and surveillance systems. Their excellent reliability and very high-quality video capabilities are ideal to support law enforcement and homeland security. For example, A manufacturer in Romania has recently ordered our Harrier 30x AF-Zoom IP Camera (based on the Sony FCB-EV9500L) for a counter-drone system. Additionally,  a Canadian police force has been evaluating our Harrier 23x AF-Zoom IP 4K Camera for use in intelligence operations and we have supplied our Harrier 40x AF-Zoom IP Camera and our Harrier 30x AF-Zoom IP Camera (based on the Sony FCB-EV9520L) to a UK police force.

ROVs for catching drug-runners

Drone-based computer vision isn’t just policing the skies, it’s also being used on underwater drones and ROVs. This article from Unmanned Systems Technology reports how border force agents in Australia are using ROV technology to monitor ships’ hulls for signs of hidden compartments which are filled with drugs and other illegal substances. The SRV-8 ROV from Oceanbotics was recently reported to have been part of an operation which seized cocaine valued at AUS$80million, hidden in containers below the waterline.

ROVs can also be used to look for submerged evidence and discarded items under water, enabling longer searches in more hostile conditions than a human diver. Seaspection have deployed their StarFish system to aid agencies in the recovery of weapons, stolen vehicles and even bodies. It can even help keep waterways safer when used to identify underwater sites which could potentially be used for terrorist activities, and for reconnaissance applications.

We have supplied autofocus-zoom cameras to a number of ROV manufacturers globally, such as our Harrier 40x AF-Zoom Camera, which is equipped with a Sony 2MP CMOS sensor and a powerful 40x optical zoom, making it perfect for high-resolution surveillance of the ocean floor.

A novel use case for CT scan imagery

Imaging is frequently used in law enforcement to catch criminals, but it’s usually crime scene video which gives the clues. However, the UK recently saw computer vision playing its part in securing a murder conviction with a very unusual computer vision application.

A team at Portsmouth University used images from a victim’s CT scan to create a 3D printed model of the deceased’s skull. The imaging unit of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary created digital images from the CT scans of a victim who was bludgeoned at home before sadly passing away three months later. These images were then used by the university’s School of Mechanical and Design Engineering to produce the 3D model, which was used as evidence in court. By incorporating an internal framework, the model was sturdy enough to be handled by jurors, giving them tangible evidence of the brutal attack. Read the full story.

Our embedded vision systems and frame grabbers have been used for many years in medical imaging applications and, thanks to our capability in custom designing imaging solutions, our systems and components could be able to help in criminal convictions in the future.

Computer vision strengthens the defense armory

Increasingly complex requirements from police, law enforcement, government, surveillance and homeland security demand advanced capabilities. Surveillance operations are now expected to provide high-resolution images and real-time video across expansive networks. Fulfilling these expectations is crucial for enhancing the efficiency of these entities in addressing emerging challenges, underscoring the vital role of state-of-the-art image capture and transmission in modern security infrastructure.

See how our products enhance law enforcement and surveillance applications or speak to our team of experts about incorporating cutting-edge vision technology system.