Milestone Systems Funds Award-Winning Research Project at The University of Aalborg

Every year 236,000 people drown around the world. In Denmark, the harbors have witnessed numerous drowning incidents over the years, with 1,647 lives lost between 2001 and 2015. A quarter of these tragedies occurred in the harbors themselves. Identifying a clear need to prevent such accidents, a research team at The University of Aalborg leveraged AI combined with video technology to enhance safety in one of Denmark’s busiest ports, Aalborg Harbor. In doing so, they created the largest outdoor thermal dataset for video analytics, covering a nine-month period.

The action of people falling into a harbor is a specific activity that cannot be easily, or ethically, replicated in the real world. Volunteers cannot be asked to fall into the water for safety reasons. Using a combination of a test-dummy filled with warm water detectable by thermal cameras and the largest published collection of annotated thermal images, AI models were trained to promptly detect and alert rescue teams if a person fell into the harbor.

The research team created an advanced synthetic dataset that could effectively train the AI models in the sudden, involuntary movements involved in falling. The training data was expanded to include wheelchair users, skaters, and bicycle riders, to provide as many scenarios of different people falling as possible for the AI model.

“By knowing the normal behavior on the waterfront, the model can detect abnormal events such as a person falling off the dock and immediately trigger an alarm. This way, rescue personnel can be called out quickly – even in cases where the accident occurs without witnesses,” explained lead researcher and Ph.D. student, Neelu Madan, The University of Aalborg.

As well as saving lives, Neelu Madan’s award-winning research demonstrates the power of synthetic data used to train AI models in scenarios that are difficult or unsafe to replicate in the real world. According to Neelu, the same model has applications in other situations. For example, it could be used by manufacturing companies to improve production processes.

“During manufacturing, for instance, it is crucial that automated processes proceed as they should. If not, the final product may end up with undetected errors that can be expensive in many ways, not least financially,” she stated.

Combining AI and video technology is making harbors safer and redefining safety standards across the transportation sector – ultimately saving countless lives in years to come as it is adopted on a global scale. The research, which is based on a partnership between The University of Aalborg and Milestone Systems, has demonstrated the possibilities of combining video technology software and AI to benefit the broader society.

“We are incredibly proud of Neelu and excited about the potential application of her work. The development of the thermal dataset by The University of Aalborg and Milestone Systems at Aalborg Harbor represents a groundbreaking step forward in video technology, providing the community with the largest annotated thermal dataset,” said Rahul Yadav, Chief Technology Officer, Milestone Systems.

About Milestone Systems
Milestone Systems is a leading provider of data-driven video technology software in and beyond security that helps the world see how to ensure safety, protect assets, and increase business efficiency. Milestone enables an open platform community that drives collaboration and innovation in the development and use of network video technology, with reliable and scalable solutions that are proven in more than 500,000 customer sites worldwide. Founded in 1998, Milestone is a stand-alone company in the Canon Group. For more information visit: http://www.milestonesys.com. For news and other press releases, visit our Newsroom.

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