Intelligence: Data Overload Makes You Numb


August 29,2008:  The U.S. Marine Corps has bought another fifteen RAID surveillance systems. The army has already bought nearly a hundred of them. RAID sensors (day and night vidcams) are used on aerostats (small tethered blimps) as well as towers. The RAID aerostats operate an altitude of a thousand feet, which means its cameras can see out to about sixty kilometers. The smaller towers shorten that range quite a bit. The 30 foot tower can see out to eleven kilometers, the 60 foot tower out to 16 kilometers and 84 foot tower out to 20 kilometers. The 30 foot tower is adequate for most situations, which usually involve guarding a base. This is a lot cheaper than using a Predator, which costs about $5,000 a hour to operate.

The Department of Defense has been developing software to work with the RAID sensors, to provide better use of the digital video obtained. Human observers tire quickly staring at the videos, and often miss subtle objects and movements. In theory, software can analyze the digital video feed and alert human operators to suspicious activity. Naturally, the military does not want to discuss much about how this works. But it is known that the Israelis have had success with this kind of software, and have been selling commercial versions of it. Apparently there is some U.S. military use of it as well.



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