In Poland, they are proud of their supercomputers and justifiably so: the nation made the top ten European supercomputer league in 2008 and features 299th in the TOP500. But that’s not as impressive as Poland’s current investment credentials: EU membership, without the being shackled to the unfortunate euro, has been the making of the country. After Hungary, it’s the most attractive European country in which to invest, having escaped the worst of the 2008 financial crisis. There is also the accommodating open access policy to data and research, world class facilities and a policy geared toward enabling partnerships and fostering collaboration.
But what’s equally important is that Poland is currently undergoing an explosion of interest in research to accelerate the development and implementation of future internet applications. The National Centre for Research and Development is supporting a number of projects in this field, using EU money, and particularly impressive is the work being done at the Gdansk University of Technology, under Prof. Henryk Krawczyk.
The central premise of Prof’s Krawczyk’s project, Mayday, is protection, for both people and public property. Mayday seeks to provide better resources and assistance for law enforcement services, the police, municipal authorities and organizers of events. The project can be used to aid hospitals but also serves to protect copyright and can be used to help track down cases of content infringement, or plagiarism.
The system uses a universal platform called KASKADA (pdf), for the processing of multimedia data streams. KASKADA is an acronym for the Polish translation of Context Analysis of Data Streams from Cameras for Alert-Defining Applications. Fibre optic cables and the internet are used to transmit information, images and sound, with data coming from multiple sources including security cameras. Software is then used to analyze the multimedia streams, detect incidents, warn users of abnormal situations, and may also activate the means to eliminate the detected threat. The incoming data streams are fed to the Galera supercomputer in the Gdansk University of Technology.
According to Prof. Krawczyk:
“This data-and-software junction in the Galera supercomputer is what we call KASKADA. The platform enables the whole system to process real-life data which is of key importance to security”
Prof Kravczk believes KASKADA has the potential for myriad applications. He told the Warsaw Voice:
“What we have developed is an innovative computer program whose algorithm will find a wide array of applications in everyday life. The platform can be used in all sorts of ways depending on what kind of multimedia stream is fed into it. One of the first applications we have come up with is automatic recognition of people and events. New technology makes it possible to install growing numbers of security cameras on city streets, at stadiums, airports, train stations and in other public places to identify potential threats.”
But KASCADA isn’t just geared toward security, it also has an application to support medical examination techniques by identifying pathological changes in the digestive system through a frame-by-frame analysis of footage produced by an endoscope. During the procedure, patients swallow a pill containing a miniature camera and, over the next several hours, the camera records a video inside the patient’s digestive tract. The footage is subsequently used to assess the patient’s condition. The application cuts down the viewing time through a frame-by-frame analysis of the video footage, advising medics about potential changes and areas where a disease is developing, which is crucial as far as early cancer diagnostics is concerned. The system enables physicians to be alerted—in real time - to problem areas, crucial for early cancer diagnostics.
The security system was to be put to use during the Euro 2012 enabling organisers to check that the number of fans entering stadiums tallied with the number of tickets sold. Another useful feature is the system’s automatic swear word recognition which automatically focuses the camera on the offender and takes their photograph.
The system is programmed to detect other potentially dangerous situations, such as a fights, crowd gathering, gunshots or somebody collapsing. When it detects a threat, special markers are added to the multimedia stream so that afterwards all suspicious-looking occurrences are easier to locate in the footage and s that operators can easily refer to them when they notify law enforcement services.
KASKADA will also have the ability to evolve, as the number of security cameras grows. One proposal is a high-performance, huge computing cluster fitted with appropriate context software to perform simultaneous multi-camera analysis. It’s also possible to adjust the efficiency of the supercomputer so as to reduce the cost of image analysis in the case of footage from a multitude of cameras hooked up to the system.
Scientists around the world have long been working on text analysis, detection of pathological changes and systems for identifying suspicious-looking individuals and potentially dangerous situations. What KASKADA adds to this process is the fact that it comes in a package rather than isolated applications able to employ identical tools and with the project nearing completion at the end of this year, the potential market for the service, in both Poland and abroad, is lucrative.
It’s a market which researchers working on a project named “Semantic Monitoring of Cyberspace,” or SMC, for short, are also seeking to tap, with public bodies, and private companies constantly analysing their environment in order to detect threats to their business, customers or citizens. There are currently few tools powerful enough to sift through the vast amounts of data to get to the threats but requirements for increased security, both in the real world and online are growing. One of the, challenges that the Future Internet will face, will be how to ensure greater security to correspond with the growth of data and diminishing resources to browse it are always limited. SMC’s goal is to integrate data from heterogeneous sources, including social networking and auction sites, to enable automatic detection of threats or criminal activity. Chosen sources can then be filtered by applying a particular threat profile.
On an even larger scale, Poland’s drive toward “Future Internet Engineering” is gaining momentum, with a national project named PL-LAB which seeks to improve the capabilities of the current Internet via a more efficient network infrastructure and new applications, particularly in the area of Future Internet.
To facilitate emerging services including the expected transfer of increasing numbers of real-world activities to the Web, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (via the EU) is also providing finance for the Ego project, which aims to enable people to semi-automatically create representations or virtual identities, to manifest their information needs, enhance customisation and flow of the information on the Web. In accordance with EU policy, the user will be able to restrict amount and type of information presented to a particular services or sources.
A further project, eXtraSpec, is aimed at the HR domain. It seeks to analyze an organization’s internal documents as well as web presence, in order to locate appropriate experts with specific competencies, either for internal purposes or for wider recruitment. Collating this information decreases asymmetry within the labour-market by partially converting tacit knowledge into data which is explicit and can be widely used.
Conformance to internet standards and norms, is a key area within the Internet of Things. To this end NOR-STA, also a recipient of EU funding, plans to make services accessible through standard Internet browsers with deployment planned in accordance with the SaaS cloud computing model. The project is running a series of case studies with partners from the medical and business sectors, including hospital quality management and secure outsourcing . Expansion to other sectors is foreseen in the course of the project course which is expected to conclude with a spin-off company.
The work of the Polish scientific community is currently being served by optical research and the educational network PIONIER which connects research entities and higher education establishments with the GEANT and other networks of neighbouring countries. Using the PIONIER’s infrastructure, PLATON is a project which is developing e-Science services for enhanced accessibility by implementing advanced services in videoconferencing, campus facilities, eduroam, archiving and scientific HD TV.
More information, on these and other Polish projects in the Internet of Things realm, can be found on the EU site which deals with Coordination of European Future Internet Member States: CeFIMS.
Alternatively, why not visit Poland for yourself and take a look? The ICT PROPOSERS' DAY 2012 takes place in Warsaw this year on 26 and 27 September 2012. More information can be found here.