Hyderabad: Sometimes, installing CCTV cameras in public spaces to keep crime in check is not enough. The camera might have captured the culprit. However, is the footage clear enough? This is where Hyderabad police’s video enhancing tools come into the picture. The software, which was first used in 2015, has been instrumental in catching offenders when it comes to theft, snatching, and even murder.

The enhancement software has become an integral part in crime investigation in the city, according to Ch Suresh Babu, Inspector of IT cell, Nalgonda district. “Even though the software is not available in most districts, we can send footages to Hyderabad Police Commissionerate and get them enhanced. Most cases involved are only from the city, where there are more CCTV cameras,” he said.

The video enhancement tool used by the Hyderabad Police Commissionerate is Ikena Forensic, while ClearID is the tool used for enhancing photographic images. According to Sunny Bandameedi from the Video Analysis team of Hyderabad police, the work is not over after video enhancement. The images need to be imported into a database and manually verified. “After the concerned officer brings the video footage, we import the footage into the software, tweaking it with several options, such as resolution, compact, etc. The enhanced images need to match with the database,” he said.

With the help of another software called FRU (Facial Recognition Unit), faces are matched with an entire database, that consists of over 1 lakh previous offenders or missing people. “We impose the enhanced photo over the photos present in the SQL (Sequential Query Language) database. It calculates matches based on height and other analytics. If it shows above 50% match, we manually check and verify through other data. We also don’t need internet for using this software,” added Sunny.

The investigators have closed several cases this way, wherein vehicle numbers have been enhanced, imported into the database, matched, and solved. Sunny cited a case from 2016, during demonetisation, where a man shot a bank manager with a pistol. The perpetrator escaped on a black Activa. “We got the last four digits of his number plate, but not the registration number specifics. We entered the vehicle details into RTA’s (Road Transport Authority) SQL database. We got a suspected list of 70-80 vehicles along with their phone numbers. After manually searching these phone numbers on Facebook, we found an individual who was wearing the same red shirt and blue jeans as the offender. That’s how we solved the case,” said the video analyst.

 

Year No. of cases received (Hyderabad Police Commissionerate) No. of cases enhanced
2015 213 140
2016 278 253
2017 312 282
2018 417 277
2019 (till October) 367 209

 

Even police officials from Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have sent footages to Hyderabad Commissionerate to get them enhanced. As of October 2019, out of 367 cases that were received, 209 cases involved successful video enhancement. While there are difficulties around CCTV camera positions and lighting, the IT team believes that the software can do an excellent job of making blurred images clearer and better.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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