As tens of thousands of people get ready for the huge fourth of July celebration at the esplanade – police are clamping down the security. Don’t forget: no backpacks, no wheeled coolers, and no cans or glass containers.

And as investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan reveals, on just one station: new, high tech, “artificial intelligence software” will be used by at least one local police agency that can stop criminals, even terrorists, in their tracks. Hank investigates.

The marathon pictures are haunting, and equally haunting is the question–what if?

What if someone had seen those deadly backpacks sooner?

What if someone could have moved them?


What did you think when you saw that video?

Ray Cavanaugh, Crescent Guardian, security and technology

“It broke my heart. Absolutely broke my heart.

Security expert Ray Cavanaugh showed me the possibility–the possibility!-that new video computer technology might have spotted those backpack bombs before they went off.

Here’s how it works..

Watch this actual surveillance video on a California subway platform — we’ve slowed it down a bit.

As the train pulls in — a guy puts a backpack under a bench .

If you were a security guard — watching a massive bank of monitors like this — would you notice that?

Now add the new technology — and in real time — a red warning box appears.

The special “artificial intelligence” software “knows” something unusual is happening and sends an instant alert to security guards.

Ray Cavanaugh, Crescent Guardian, security and technology

“It’s essentially looking for something that hasn’t occurred before. So if you’ve got a street corner where people are milling about or walking for periods of time, and someone takes something, say a backpack or something leaves it and walks away from it, that’s anomalous behavior. ”

Look here—someone’s abandoned luggage at a train station—bing–the software sees it. When this guy tries to climb over a fence: caught.

A car theft in progress—stopped.

Studies show human beings can only focus and accurately recognize problems for about 20 minutes.

Software though – doesn’t get tired.

Ray Cavanaugh, Crescent Guardian, security and technology

“It doesn’t blink. It doesn’t need to take breaks and things of that nature so it’s just always running.”

Look at new york city’s monitor room…massive…but it uses a similar kind of smart camera software— throughout the city.

Jessica Tisch, NYPD

“The system gives the officers an alert.“

Here’s someone leaving a bag on the sidewalk…the software knows.

Jessica Tisch, NYPD

“It says there’s an abandoned package at the Chrysler building.”

Think we need it Boston? 7 news has learned the t is testing it right now.

See this guy? He’s not authorized to be in this subway tunnel, and the software caught him.

The MBTA hopes to track intruders and crack down on fare evaders.

Randy Clarke, MBTA, Sr. Director of Security and Emergency Management

“This is going to provide information immediately to both the control center like this or transit police dispatch center and immediately we’re going to know where people are in areas they should not be.”

So what about Boston police? They told me they *aren’t* using this new smart camera technology yet, but like other law enforcement agencies across the country, they did say–they are considering it.

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