Application Development of "Urban Tomography" for Transportation Security at a Major Los Angeles Transportation Hub (LATH)

Past METRANS-funded research has led to the use of video-equipped smartphones (with WiFi and 3G, and GPS) in transportation security applications. The application, termed Urban Tomography, allows multiple users of smartphones to make videos and have them automatically uploaded through the Internet to a secure site, so allowing for many slices or views of a situation (hence "tomography"). Security or law-enforcement personnel at transportation facilities can use our system to monitor threats, counter surveillance by hostile agents by recording those acts of surveillance - with the convenience of an always-available smartphone and automatic uploading of videos (tagged by place, time) to the web and a secure website available to supervisory personnel for real time analysis and archived for retrospective searches. A pilot program for the use of these smartphones has been in place at a major Los Angeles Transportation Hub since January 2009. This research aims to take the knowledge gained from the pilot program feedback, as well as improved technology, and make the system more compatible with security personnel needs. For instance, smartphones are energy hungry, and thus methods must be developed to balance energy costs of various transmission means (WiFi, 3G) with delay-tolerance of applications/users. Because video (ideally, high quality video for surveillance and security needs) transfers require a high bandwidth, alternative transfer methods are necessary to develop, such as "summary" videos. In effect, "summary" videos are time lapse photography, uploading perhaps one frame out of thirty initially, and then later sending the full video depending on the availability of bandwidth. Additionally, GPS does not work well indoors, and various alternative methods of location finding need to be adapted to the system. Furthermore, while initial research focused on developing the Urban Tomography system on the Symbian OS platform, since at the time of our initial work only the Nokia N95 phone had the relevant capabilities, this research aims to adapt the system to other platforms such as Android. (iPhone OS is for a smartphone camera that does not have the requisite quality.) Finally, the major unsolved problem is how to deal with a corpus of videos that may number in the thousands, so that security personnel can find videos of interest readily. This will involve the initial time/space tags on the videos, speech-to-text processing of audio on the videos to find further tags, and, more speculatively, visual analysis methods to tag each video with further information. It is possible that a "display assistant" that would enable an analyst to readily find related videos will need to be developed.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research

    University of Southern California
    650 Childs Way, RGL 107
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
  • Project Managers:

    Valentine, Victoria

  • Performing Organizations:

    National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research

    University of Southern California
    650 Childs Way, RGL 107
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
  • Principal Investigators:

    Krieger, Martin

  • Start Date: 20100801
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20110701
  • Source Data: RiP Project 27263

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01461205
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research
  • Contract Numbers: 11-05
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:41PM