Search impact stories
Video Content: 
0
November 2012

Making security systems smarter

Rafael Falcon had no idea that winning a poster competition organized by the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Ottawa would generate the attention needed to land his dream job. But after two fruitful Mitacs-Accelerate internships, Rafael, a University of Ottawa Computer Science PhD graduate, was hired as Research Scientist in April 2012 by Larus Technologies, an Ottawa-based software development company specializing in intelligence and surveillance systems.

It was Dr. Janice Singer, an IRAP-Industry Technology Advisor, who awarded Rafael the 1st prize in the poster competition and saw the great potential in Rafael’s and Larus' mutual interest in wireless sensors and robot networks.

As a direct result of Rafael's Mitacs-Accelerate projects, Larus' existing product line was enhanced and is now leading the field of Territorial Security (TerrSec). No other TerrSec solution currently on the market incorporates a dynamic risk management framework in its sensor network coverage. For Dr. Rami Abielmona, Vice President of Research and Engineering at Larus Technologies, "This is not only giving us an edge in that market but it could also mean an increase in sales leads and partnerships for us. We are so grateful to have found Rafael through Mitacs-Accelerate!"

More than ever, the protection of Canadian land, public safety, international borders and public transportation is at the forefront of everybody's mind. That is why surveillance operators need automated tools to make sense of the overwhelming amount of information flowing in real-time: radar, thermal imaging and magnetic sensors, to name just a few. Strategically positioned wireless sensors allow the operator to react to eventual anomalies. If the operator were to see a mobile target trying to enter a secured perimeter, as an example, a police patrol will be automatically dispatched to intercept the target. By adding the results of Rafael's research in this scenario – the risk management assessment, visualization and monitoring – it would also inform the operator of the potential risks to the responding police agents in case the target is armed and determined to carry on its operation. The bottom line: Rafael’s research could potentially save lives.

As an employee of Larus, Rafael is continuing his research and development of the company’s flagship product, which uses real-time algorithms to monitor multiple data streams, filter out unnecessary information and then fuse it into one picture. "Information overload is a constant concern," he says. 

The application of his research allows the system to change its method of operation over time. "Let's say a car drives by late at night and a message is sent to the operator. If the operator signals that cars are allowed in the area during that time of the day, the system will not flag a similar situation in the future. Over time, it learns to adapt to its environment and will only send alerts for problems that are of real concern," explains Rafael. "I can honestly say that this is my dream job! I am more than convinced that I am working at the right company, with the right people and at the right time."

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program and the Government of Ontario for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.