POLICING AND BIM – A WIN WIN PROPOSAL

With ever increasing pressures on policing budgets for more Officers on the beat and such an overwhelming task for utilities and businesses to get BIM Level 2 and PAS 256 compliant, there is the potential for a partnership that will benefit Private industry with an expandable framework for the police and public services.

FastDomain Web Hosting $6.95

I will start by asking you to be open minded and dismiss any BIG Brother concepts or conspiracies and look at the potential for good. There is nothing wrong with technology, only those that use it for bad.

I recently posted a short piece on 360 video for photogrammetry so we can model the travelled world by utilities giving a targeted group of selfie customers some 360 cameras and free hosting with the proviso that the utilities could extract the built environment data. It can be found here – upgrade to 360 video cameras. This expands on that, but changes the operating user for better utilisation of funds.

So as discussed in the previous article that pointclouds and models can be created from the 360 videos which can be uploaded to a central server and post processed to identify things like telegraph poles and manhole covers which will give point to point locations of sewers, and buried telephone and power lines as well as other services. This is nothing new but the software and algorithms get better every day.

So why are we not doing this already – we are but it costs a fortune in labour and meetings to target the priorities of that small survey labour force. This is crazy as we have to get it done anyway and it is always the end customer that has to pay for it in the long run, whether it be taxes or recovered through the bills of the end product like SMART meters or did bills just go up at the same time by coincidence – I am not on the inside on that one, there was a report by BEIG but I refer you to the UK parliament paper to research yourself, on how they are not as good as they are made out, and there are the issues of electro smog (see the difference between radio emmission limits between the west and east + switzerland) and once you have one – they wont remove it – my personal experience is the same with my energy provider.

Ok back to topic, So we have 2 issues – Companies not currently investing enough in labour or infrastructure to do this and multiple organisations duplicating labour. What other issues do we have – One large one is an underfunded police force. Hey lets partner with the police to capture the imagery as they go everywhere and repetitively so it is always up to date.

I know what you are saying – Big Brother State, Hate to burst the bubble but we already are there technologically and it is only the control measures and procedures that stop a 1984 distopia – and there is no reason for this to change especially in the UK.

Unhackable Kaspersky

The technicalities of the police capturing 360 footage can be as basic as a helmet or selfie pole (attached to uniform) mounted 360 camera or even go the whole hog and mount an Infra red camera directly above the 360 so maximising the opportunity.

This will give the benefit for capturing the built environment for BIM and PAS 256 but also the police forces benefit from 360 recording and reporting of police activities.

So why would this benefit the police in the long run. Well before we get to the technical advantages, there is the fact that money would be diverted to the police forces as a surveying service / data source which would be an easy sell to private industry as they are omni present and thus have the resources ready to go now without immediate investment in staff, but, this increase in finance would aid the police to increase its staffing levels to provide a better policing service and more up to date data source which benefits the whole of society and public purse as you move the policing sector from being an economic drain on the public purse to a revenue generating / self supporting sector which gives it a positive business investment plan.

This product can then be used for the police service’s own gain by creating Mixed reality software/hardware that aids an officers automated threat detection system, much like technology applied to military aircraft – something basic to start like someone about to attack from behind should not be too hard to incorporate, thus giving health and safety benefits to police officers on the beat. Having just mentioned the military – Just think of the benefits of this same technology to peace keepers, maybe they have something already they could share to aid this development.

The Most Affordable Meetings On The Market

So expanding on this, as an Agile development, you can develop the ability to combine a localy processed geolocated video stream to help locate geographics and comparitive video overlap to detect what has changed over time. This has its obvious law enforcement and military applications, but now if we extend its application to search and rescue, Fire Service, Environment Agencies – we have a full cross sector data reference system for a virtual world construct that can automatically detect areas of risk or interest depending on the criteria. Imagine being able to direct flood rescue personnel to search certain areas with a geographic location and image on their helmet display of what they expect to see underfoot in real time.

I know people are saying its too heavy and will not work but we can combine a micro computer (think Raspberry Pi) with different operating systems i.e. Android / Win10IOT, that support something like openCV so we can pre load areas onto it in a mesh format which is much lighter than pointcloud so we are not far off technologically thanks to opensource gurus with ethics.

Ok, I have strayed from the original point with good reason – Whenever I talk about Virtual world I come up against – Who will use it? and if I answer Future growth planners, maintenance, Construction – I always get the answer of they already do something and its their budget which creates a great deal of pain for me as the public or customer pay for everything in the end so I look at the best efficiency for them. Yes we need to combine this or tailor to application, and I do not have all the technical answers, maybe the guys that came up with OpenCV and mapping companies like ESRI do, but this is just a concept to be enhanced. If we all worked together in a cross sector way for society, which we all are members of, rather than self image or local profit / reward, we might get somewhere – He sais knowing he will place ads in this post.

So moving on with the Police service benefits, you can incorporate feature recognition and OCR (Optical Character Recognition). The Feature Recognition aspects may be as low key as identifying a truck or car for traffic enforcement but could be as enhanced as identifying persons of interest from the crime database. Some algorithms are as advanced as to detect behavioral conditions which could help dealing with people on a friday night or, being 360 degree vision, be able to detect someone needing help in the distance behind as the officer may be distracted with a lower priority task.

The OCR feature could obviously help track vehicles but also to report an officers location to control which will help in built up areas where satellite navigation systems have reduced accuracy.

Ok, with feature recognition software, you also get facial recognition so moving away from the beat policing, If a crime had been committed and you had officers walking the BEAT as it were, the software could pick out regular faces who may provide leads on past cases, not just recent but if you think of transference of geographic habitual habits, i.e. someone at 18 Dortmund street always buys a pint of milk at the corner shop of never was ere lane, then 30 years ago, the resident of that address is likely to of done something similar which may help gain witness leads to close cold cases.

One other point to consider on recent crime locations is the video would provide Accident / first responder investigation – never miss a thing even if someone removes evidence later. As long as someone was there – you have a full record of the crime scene. This would also aid other services like the AAIB when they fly out to plane crashes in the middle of densely populated forests. The software could even be tailored to search areas instead of relying on the skill and attention of the searcher. Imagine the time it would save identifying the four corners of the aircraft if you could send locals with a hat on before the pillaging starts.

Ok, I think I have nailed why the police should be considered the geographic photogrammetric surveyors of the world – if you agree then please share this post on social media and get them the funding to police society properly.

I wanted to share this last note to those that have read this and are scared of too much technology in the states hands. I had a conversation with someone the other day, and as much as we disagree on so many things, we both agreed that the way to avoid an autocratic ‘Big Brother State’ is to keep the ‘Bobby on the beat’. The simplest way to achieve this is for us to all make them an economic benefit to the state as industry invests in profit channels and I believe this is one without corrupting the law enforcement high standard, just needed some high level lateral thinking…

Now imagine if we equiped several police vehicles with high speed laserscanners above the light bar – well maybe you should read https://vulcansrealm.com/2019/04/14/driverless-autonomous-vehicles-how/

On the other hand if i am in jail next week – the system is corrupt – No freedom of speech – its a conspiracy and I am innocent !!!!

Upgrade to 360 Video Cameras

So we are all familiar with action cameras and taking video on our smart phones but what should we do and when? Why not just use a smart phone for everything? Actually some phones do have the ability to clip on a 360 camera and share the video instantly – which is great if you have a modern mobile phone but I am a dinosaur and love dedicated units.

So lets go back to basics, First we had physical film as a recording medium, then we could digitize this in post processing. Soon we started recording in digital on the camera i.e. DVD-R camcorders which were then followed by Non Volatile memory storage like Compact flash. Up till recently it has only been the recording medium that changed but the capture device has remained fairly unchanged in principle i.e. Film SLR cameras became Digital SLR etc.

Although the size of 1 GB storage medium physical size has been reduced through advancements in storage formats (not the same as recording format) and the actual physical media, which is impressive but the biggest advancements have been through the actual fixed lens development.

So why is this important?

Today we use photography and videophotography for so much from AI, Traffic enforcement, Policing, 3D modelling of the natural and built environment while also detecting environmental problems with drones. All of this is only possible because of good photographic capture and recording to be processed. It really is true that if you put bad data in then you get bad data out and a digital picture is exactly that – DATA. So the better the lens, the better the data.

So I love my DSLR but it is getting old now and 24 Megapixel is just about cutting it these days so I am looking into other ways of capturing Good quality Images with less moving parts. This Brings me to Action Cameras.

So I have a GoPro Hero 5 and it is amazing. I use it for my job to capture asset data but struggle to get good photogrammetry results,that rival the DSLR, with many software packages and have been reluctant to get into spherical (360) photography due to the past issues with inability to measure and scale accurately. These problems have, in the main, and continue to be ironed out with modern image stitching techniques and equirectangular processing/conversion.

So from my perspective, I am upgrading my GoPro with a forward looking light so I can improve the reliability of the focus on close up captured image data in low light conditions, for the short term, but I can’t help but think, how useful will it be to capture everything in 360 for total environment capture, even if it requires 360 fill lighting, and let it all get straightened out in post processing and there is my problem – POST PROCESSING.

Post Processing normaly requires lots of power and it is recommended to have something like an Intel I7-6700 (equivalent or better) and NVIDEA GTX GPU (equivalent or better). So although entry cameras are affordable, you also have to think of your computing power to process the 360 images into equirectangular (normal) video. This is normaly completed by the manufacturers own software but once converted, you can use your normal equipment and video editing suite.

However – The benefit of never missing anything when you leave a job is worth it alone but when you think you can re-use the data for photogrammetry (results dependent on processing software/hardware and the images also need to be processed into equirectangular format) or even many manufacturers support an app to display in many VR headsets which is cool and a great way to save money on hazard or industrial site familiarisation training.

Obviously Action Cams are always thought of as the Adrenaline Junkie tool on the end of a selfie stick, but they really do have a productive side especially when upto 5.7k video is paired with some lateral thinking, software and IT skill.

Some 360 cameras out there include:

  • Insta360
  • Insta 360 nano
  • GoPro Fusion 360
  • Garmin Virb 360
  • Ladybug 5
  • NCTech iStar
  • Ricoh Theta
  • Ricoh Theta S

There is so much more to say about the advantages of 360 which are obvious like –

  • Being able to take a panoramic with one click and not have to worry about setting up and leveling a tripod.
  • Having one security camera unit cover a 360 view reducing the amount of camera positions to remove blind spots.
  • Driver cam – capture the road and the drivers mental state reflected in his body language
  • Photogrammetry time saving.
  • Work Site/job familiarisation and safety training.
  • Contractor insight – Being able to give a contractor an eye into say your plumbing issue while also being able to see you might be a bonus.
  • Incident/accident/Crime investigation – The ability to capture everything in relation to each other will be able to give investigators i.e. crash or accident investigators perspectives that only Laserscanning would have been able to do previously. Imagine the evidence that could be captured on a wet rainy night that would normally have been washed away.
  • Finally – that awesome one in a million wave or pipe.

The remaining big issue is sharing the data as cloud data space, on many sharing forums, can be costly so you could set up your own website or private cloud. Alternatively you could social media it but there could be a good little mutualy beneficial thing here.

If there was a central cloud service that was free to store as much data as you liked from action cam and especially 360 video capture, we could pretty much model a vast part of the traveled world in a decade at zero survey cost to business. We could speed that up if customers of utility companies were given something like a 360 action cam.

Why – Photogrammetry and Feature recognition with cloud hosted AI. We have the technology and can ramp up the cloud to handle the data. Someone once said to me – no one will pay to survey the country, I say we do not need to. Vloggers and the general public will – just give them something mutually beneficial i.e. a 360 action cam and unlimited storage and sharing space for those videos with the proviso that the host can extract the built environment data which would satisfy any privacy concerns. Imagine Google Earth VR in one year.

So before we become batteries in the Matrix (showing my age) I will end this but give it thought and get on the 360 train.

FastDomain Web Hosting $6.95

ATMOS UAV | Fixed Wing VTOL Drones for Mapping & Surveying

I saw this VTOL drone in the flesh at the GeoData exhibition in London a couple of weeks back and was very impressed as it takes photogrammetric modelling flights to the realms of 1 hour in the sub £20k bracket.

This is a tool that is perfectly tailored to DEM mapping, farming and Urban mapping.

The skin is crash resilient but that should not be a problem as all flights are pre planned and Mapped.

Definitely worth further research and look at their website for further details. The link is below.

ATMOS MARLIN

Autodesk Recap Photo – part of Recap Pro

This is a much underrated product in the AEC community but it has its strengths and is great for those that need good results that can be exported into most mesh formats.

Ok it costs £42 a month as a subscription to Recap Pro which also handles registering of laserscan data from many manufacturers. With this you get a certain amount of Cloud credit for processing your images or pointclouds into mesh models. This is not great as at last check 1 cloud credit was $1 and upto 300 photos will cost you 12 credits so even though you pay that £42 a month, every project will cost you between £10 to £50 depending on how many images you use.

This brings me on to the next issue, Photo models or closeups can only be 20-300 images and UAV / Drone Models can only be derived from a maximum of 1000 images. Considering photogrammetry tends to need at least a 30% overlap of image data to create tie points between images, you are not going to cover a great deal of area for you £50.

Ok thats the negative and why it quite rightly gets a slam from the AEC community over the costs but there are so many good things about it like:-

  • It is fairly accurate time after time
  • You only need a standard cheap laptop so there is a cost saving.
  • It has a simple GUI system to upload your project images to the cloud and download the result.
  • Once uploaded to the cloud, you no longer need to tie up your computer with processing images to models and can get on with other aspects of your business which is the strength of cloud based solutions as if you stop work, you probably lose 5 or 6 times more money than the processing cost but if it is not as expected then you have to pay again to process another project – no refunds for bad models.
  • You can optimize the export format of the model to many bits of software including Blender so no lock into autodesk products.
  • Autodesk supports students and education facilities with free access to many of their products on a Education Licence.
  • It ties in seamlessly with other Autodesk software like Maya and 3DS which are used extensively within many Industries so it adds to a great workflow.

There is also a 30 day trial available on Autodesk products so it is worth trying out for yourself.

On test it produced a model better than that of non CUDA Open source software to the extent of picking out the Cigarette Butts that had been discarded in the trough which is pretty good for that set of images. Please have a look at the video below which illustrates what you can expect. Do also note how much extra background imagery has been converted too.

I did also like how it computed a bottom for the trough even though there were no deliberate images of the bottom. 

 

 

For a complete look at this software go to Autodesk Recap Page

Please Like and Share this page with colleagues if you found it helpful.

Photogrammetry – General

So what is Photgrammetry?

Photogrammetry is in general terms, creating digital 3D models from pictures. It is also known as Structure from Motion but essentially generates a 3D model (mesh) to fairly accurate dimensions which can also be geolocated in some instances.

There are quite a few different ways to calculate the shape of objects in images using different algorithms, which are improved all the time, and every manufacturer of photogrammetry software claims to have the best but they all require multiple shots from different angles which are then tied together, imagine making a box by stapling paper pictures together, So the accuracy of the camera and technique or coverage of pixels will have huge effects on output quality.

The question is what do you want to do with your model and what time constraints are you working to?

If you are just hobying then check out open source software. Do be aware that some require you to have an NVIDEA CUDA compatible graphics card, and in general the better the graphics processing, then the better the results but some will operate using non specialist graphics such as standard intel HD as supplied with the I5 2nd generation CPU onwards.

Really though it is more than just a fun hobby as these tools have real power if combined with a good camera, good PC and good photographic surveyor.

The List of Photogrammetry Software we know of is below but is growing all the time even though they can sometimes use the same algorithm, quite often you can find different software displays different results and we definitely encourage everyone to try out this open source software even for fun using your phone camera. Do make sure you have good cooling on your PC though as it is Processor intensive. I use a MV Power Laptop cooling pad

Open Source or Free

  • Regard3D – Does not Require CUDA
  • MeshRoom – Requires CUDA
  • OpenMVG
  • VisualSFM
  • MicMac
  • ColMap

Proprietary (normally have a 30 day trial to test)

  • Autodesk Recap Photo – Does not require CUDA as Cloud Processed
  • 3DF Zephyr – Does not Require CUDA
  • Bentley Context Capture
  • Agisoft Metashape (Photoscan)
  • Reality Capture
  • Photomodeler
  • PIX4D
  • DroneDeploy
  • Imagine Photogrammetry
  • iWitness

If we have not mentioned a software you know of then please mention it below or use the contact form.

3DF Zephyr Photogrammetry

Ok so we keep running into that NVIDEA CUDA requirement but a vast amount of laptops only have intel or AMD graphics. This is a big problem but hey there is 3DF Zephyr which is free for personal use and is not too expensive if you go pro.

First of all the free version is only allowing 50 pictures or frames but its enough to learn and if you need more then 150 euros gets you the next level for up to 500 images or frames. The next two pricing tiers turn this software into a onestop shop for all photogrammetry and laserscan processing but it would need trialing well to warrant the expense.

Here though we are testing the basic free version on a Win10 laptop with an intel I5-4310 2.6GHz CPU with 8GB of Ram and Intel 4000 Graphics.

The Pictures have been taken with a Nikon D3200 DSLR 24 Megapixel which has now been replaced by the D3500 and can be seen here on amazon.

Ok so while typing, I have been processing a batch of photos of a memorial Trough in 3DF Zephyr (free). It took about 5 mins to install from the website https://www.3dflow.net/3df-zephyr-free/

Once installed Click File -> New Project

This will open a dialogue to upload pictures or video, remember free version is limited to 50 frames or pictures so if using a video capture camera, maximise your settings for quality as you want the most ammount of pixels in your frame. Even still you are likely to get less than 12 frames per second (standard is 24fps) so at slowest it is about 4 seconds of video. Alternatively there are many open source programs or free to use like VLC or OpenShot that will convert your video to images but some have had issues with the correct codec being recognised from their device which then requires the video converting in handbrake first but there is alway free video to JPG Converter which will work on most codecs and is simple to use although I did lose all EXIF and GPS data when I tried it. This can be a problem if creating automated Geolocated point clouds or mesh, which will require manual geolocation.

Once the images have been selected,you need to tell the software how they were taken, I took these stnading up in an Urban environment so I selected Urban with standard everything. I then click next and select what the output process will be, I selected everything as I want to export a mesh for modelling so I have to have a Dense Point cloud first. Then hit Run which is at the top of the page.

Needless to say it took a while, approx 1.5 hours, but was fully automated. I did note that it took 85% disk buffer and kept peaking out at 100% memory and CPU. Even though, it only used 15 images (called Cameras) out of the 30 selected images. This has led to issues with the final render but the below is the video of Generated Sparse Point Cloud, Dense Point Cloud, Mesh, Textured Mesh.

The results Were good considering it did not use any of the images from the back side so I think the next thing to try is a video and select the images more carefully from that.

I hope this was a good intro to 3DF Zephyr and lets try and find out how to improve the reliability of completed model output. I believe that it is in the technique so shall devote a little time to this and share when I have the answer / method.

Meshroom Photogrammetry

2019 – What a wonderful year for Photogrammetry. Not only have we had great advances in hardware like UAV’s but also the long awaited Meshroom hit the web in open source format using the AliceVision framework.

This means that the little person can use a good piece of software to create mesh models from pictures – providing that the camera is good enough.

For too long we have had to either pay heavy amounts of money or use command line for any power processing photogrammetry projects but now this promisses to change all that witha full professional GUI and DOPE editor combined with the SFM AliceVision System.

Obviously we need to convince big business that open source is worth supporting so please all spread the word.

Over the Next few days I will be trialling the software and upload some samples and if it produces great results, like they have, we will use it for creating open source models to share so watch this space and lets reduce that modelling time for games.

Here is to Hope but if you want to investigate yourself then please look at their website https://alicevision.github.io/#