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With the proliferation of the Internet and mobile devices, cameras are everywhere. Countless practitioners take photos daily and receive photos from the public. Interviews tell us that over half of these photos have quality problems. Victims and store owners are heartbroken when a surveillance system exports low quality images.

We want to create tools that will let anyone produce photos that meet first responder needs. Imagine a camera that tells you how the image will look on a 24-inch monitor, offer suggestions on how to take a better photo, or tell you to clean the lens. A surveillance system could give laypeople insight into first responder needs. For example, officers will have trouble identifying people who walk into a store, because the field of view is too wide or the camera is too high.


Bad Quality Image pscr

Interviews tell us that image quality is a problem 60-75% of the time

Here is our plan in a nutshell:

  • Ask how first responders how their department uses photos and video
  • Collect images that demonstrate the many ways first responders use photography
  • Identify patterns—image and video quality problems that impact many first responders
  • Stimulate innovation on novel camera technologies

An Innovative Approach: First Responder Feedback

Interviews help us understand quality of experience problems—situations when the camera makes a first responder’s job more difficult.

We need feedback from first responders on how their department uses photos and video. It is important that we get feedback from a large variety of first responders. Each department has different local problems, funding, geography, climate, and population density. Every first responder provides us with a new perspective, which helps build a more robust understanding of bigger problems.

Image Database

We are collecting first responder photos:

  • The full range of image quality (excellent to bad)
  • Various departments, subject matters, and purposes
  • All technologies (surveillance, in-car, body-cam, DSLR, smartphone)

We want to collect 10,000 images. Some problems are difficult to describe but easy to see. By sampling the enormous variety of digital images used by first responders, we can understand the image quality problems that impact first responders. This image database will support the development of new camera technologies.

We hope to encourage new technologies by freely distributing the database on the Consumer Digital Video Library (CDVL) for research and development purposes only (no commercial applications). The CDVL license terms are clarified in plain English (free registration). We also value images that must be kept internal to PSCR, due to licensing, litigation, or other usage restrictions.

Values to Public Safety

The ability of public safety users to produce and receive high-quality photos is critical in effectively conducting their mission. This research seeks to improve the image quality by creating tools that meets first responder needs.

Surveillance Photo
When photos are exported from surveillance systems, the quality can plummet

Ladder Dark pscr
First responders in the field struggle with low light and bad weather

Ladder Light pscr

Created August 12, 2016, Updated September 6, 2016