KCBS news radio interviewed David Notowitz this morning (4-16-2013) about the use of surveillance and cellphone videos to investigate, enhance, and analyze the Boston Marathon bombings.

Listen to the audio directly below, and below that is the transcript.


FEMALE ANCHOR: As we heard in the update, the FBI and local law enforcement have plenty of video and stills to look at, and for a look at how they’ll analyze that evidence, we’re joined live on the KCBS News line by David Notowitz, the founder of the Los Angeles-based, National Center for Audio and Video Forensics. Mr. Notowitz, thanks for joining us this morning.

DAVID NOTOWITZ: Thank you, good morning.

ANCHOR: Especially considering, I mean not only is that area of Boston saturated with regular security cameras but because this was a marathon and there was so many people there, taking home videos, taking stills, is there a chance that they’re gonna be swamped with, just, an incredible amount of stuff that’s going to take a long time to review?

DN: Well they, they do want to be swamped. They want to be swamped. Because every little piece of evidence needs to be looked at. It could be someone’s hand-held surveillance video, a smart phone video that would help them solve this. But it also could be from a surveillance camera that’s just set up in someone’s hardware store.

MALE ANCHOR: So how does all this stuff get sucked into a system and analyzed, I mean, we see so many TV shows and movies which give us the impression that someone can press a button and in seconds this is all assembled. What really happens?

DN: Yeah, it’s a lot more, difficult than that. I wish it was so easy, but it requires just a lot of man-hours. A lot of man-power, going door to door, to businesses. Door to door to homes, and capturing that footage, as soon as possible. The big story really, in my opinion, is that all this footage will be automatically erased from people’s businesses within weeks sometimes, this stuff just gets erased automatically reused, these hard drives, so, they need to go right now to every door they can think of and try to capture this footage and copy it in the highest resolution they can. And, a lot of these businesses are small businesses that have older systems, but that might be the footage that would solve the crime. And, lastly I want to say, just to answer your question that, it could be, that, the answer is out there. Most likely it is captured in video somewhere, and, we just don’t know where to look, and, which person or group of people did this.

WOMAN ANCHOR: Is there any sort of software that can help officials come through this more quickly?

DN: Well, what you have to do, I’m not going to name a specific piece of software, but what happens is you want to sync all this material together as best you can, based on time. Sometimes that’s the best way to do it. But, and then you can see, you can compare and you can watch all the screens at once, but, with so much footage, you really need to have an individual person look through, one piece of video carefully, at a time, trying to figure it out. The automation processes out there so far, which would recognize, you know, by a computer, suspicious activity. It’s just not, there yet, to do the job right as well as the human brain. And, you just need a lot of people, like I said, looking through that carefully and looking for suspicious activity.

MALE ANCHOR: Since we know the “where” of it, exactly where both devices went off, we have a pretty good idea now, based on what we’re learning from from CBS News sources of “what” went off, in other words it was in dark-colored nylon, should that help narrow things down a bit?

DN: Well yes, you have to start with that spot. That’s the central spot right now. From that, you build out, you say, “What was it made of? Where did the supplies come from? Let’s check out the hardware stores, and see what’s recorded there.” Both mom and pop hardware stores, and the big hardware chains that are networked with their surveillance. So, all that together, you start with that central location of the bombing, and, look at that material most closely. Because it had to planted, we know that, so, at some point, the stuff had to be put there. And then we back-track from that: Where, what direction did the people come from? Let’s see, which direction down the street? And then you follow those surveillance cameras down the street. And you have to match all that together.

FEMALE ANCHOR: Mr. Notowitz, thanks for joining us this morning. David Notowitz, founder of the Los Angeles-based National Center for Audio and Video forensics, as the FBI and Boston officials are asking folks for the video or any pictures they may have taken the day of the marathon.