Engineers at Leeds University are working to design an intelligent CCTV system that will track people who have left bags in public buildings.

Engineers at Leeds University are working as part of an international consortium to design an intelligent CCTV system that will track people who have left bags in public buildings - and even determine whether their actions might be suspicious.

Building on existing surveillance technology, the SUBITO (Surveillance of Unattended Baggage and the Identification and Tracking of the Owner) program will be able to identify specific shapes and movements that allow an individual and their baggage to be tracked over time.

By creating an artificially intelligent system, users of the system should be able to determine whether someone has put a bag down for an innocent reason, such as going to buy a coffee, or for something more sinister.

David Hogg, Prof of Artificial Intelligence at Leeds, said: ‘Due to increased anxieties around the threat of terrorism, the monitoring and surveillance of unattended baggage has become a top priority across the globe. By employing advanced computer technology our system will make this kind of surveillance much less prone to human error.’

Using the SUBITO system, security teams could follow a suspect’s movements in the minutes leading up to them leaving their bags unattended and then keep track of their whereabouts afterwards. This would minimise cost and wasted resources by cutting the number of false security alarms at places such as airports and railway stations.

The system would highlight potential threats so that staff could keep a close eye on those rather than having to scan dozens of screens; this should limit the need to close down public areas unnecessarily as suspicious individuals can be watched more closely.

The SUBITO program will be developed as a result of work by 10 organisations from six European countries and is funded through the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.