GovTech Business Watch: Startup Working on AI for Police Body Camera Video, Itron Seeks App Functionality for Smart Meters

Plus, a digital security and privacy-focused investment from the Omidyar Network.

by / January 27, 2017

GovTech Business Watch is a weekly roundup of news in the government technology market.

Video AI Company Turns Toward Police Body Cameras

Following the explosive popularity of body cameras at police departments across the country, a video analytics company is training up programs that could help automate some of the work it takes to get value out of the huge volume of visual data those cameras produce.

Dextro, a New York-based company founded in 2013, has traditionally sold its services to the private sector. But now, according to an article from the Knight Foundation-backed news site Undark, the company is building up its artificial intelligence capacities to handle video from police departments.

With companies such as Taser selling thousands upon thousands of cameras, many of them now producing high-definition video, police departments are beginning to compile terabyte-sized archives of data. There are private-sector solutions for storing that, and even some object recognition programs that can analyze it, but what’s missing is sophistication — the ability to detect the sequences that make up a weapon being drawn, for example.

Running archives of video through machine learning processes could produce the kind of tools needed to automate that work, potentially meaning more efficient and effective evidence management for police departments.

Dextro has raised about $1.7 million in seed funding, according to Crunchbase.

In the Footsteps of Apple and Tesla, Itron Looks to Turn Smart Meters into a Platform 

Technologists like to call back to Apple’s reinvention of the phone by turning it into a platform that can host new functionalities through downloaded apps.

With the increasing sophistication of vehicle automation, Tesla and others have brought the same idea to cars.

Itron wants the same for its smart meters.

The publicly traded company announced Jan. 25 that it’s partnering with Internet of Things firm Bsquare to improve app downloads for its technology. The idea is to give utilities the ability to squeeze more functionality out of their smart meters without needing to physically upgrade them.

For example, apps might help demand response programs, detect performance issues or notify managers of theft, according to a press release.

“With the interest from third parties, including utilities, we expect hundreds of apps available over time,” Mark de Vere White, Itron’s president of electric utility business, said in the statement.

Omidyar Bumps Up Investment in Tech Privacy-Focused Nonprofit

Hoping to expand digital privacy education efforts, the Omidyar Network has pumped $1.95 million into the Tactical Technology Collective (TTC).

The move adds to Omidyar’s first investment of $500,000, in 2015, for the Germany-based nonprofit. In a statement from Omidyar, the organization said the money will specifically be focused on expanding TTC’s “Security in a Box” and “Me and My Shadow” projects. The former offers a tool kit for users to protect themselves against hackers and other threats, while the latter is focused on educating users about the various ways they create data for organizations to collect on the Internet.

“The organization brings over a decade of experience and reflection, enhancing and protecting the safety and security of those with whom they work,” the statement reads. “TTC is especially known for its work with civil society organizations, especially the most marginalized and/or at risk.”

Omidyar is offering the $1.95 million to the organization as a three-year effort.

Ben Miller Staff Writer

Ben Miller is the business beat staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.