Analyzing prison guard dog barks

| May 21, 2008

My first job out of college (1978-79) was at General Dynamics/WDSC down in San Diego, where I worked on a variety of projects. One such project was an effort to distinguish between wheeled vehicles (like trucks) and tracked vehicles (like tanks) using stand-off radar. It seems the Soviets had built plywood shells that looked like tanks, mounted them over trucks, and were moving thousands of them around along the ‘Iron Curtain’ (the Soviet border between Eastern and Western Europe) to help disguise from satellites the movement of actual tanks. We used Bayesian analysis of some 27 different characteristics of the radar signals and narrowed it down to just 3 characteristics that would allows us a 95% success rate in telling the fake tanks from the real ones (in theory, at least; our radar data came from test runs out at Camp Pendleton).

I thought of that project in reading about this one: Israelis analyzing the different sounds of prison guard dogs barking to determine which ones actually indicate problems:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli jails are using a custom-built computer program to interpret the barks of guard dogs and distinguish warnings of a breakout from everyday woofs, a prisons official said Monday.

Noam Tavor, head of the Israel Prisons Service canine unit, said the program is designed to overcome mistakes in which guards have either not heard dogs sounding an alarm or failed to speedily identify its significance.

“It collects the dogs’ barks through microphones…and sorts and grades them,” Tavor told Army Radio. “It relays only the barks that are significant in terms of security — barks that reveal stress or aggression in the dog.” . . .

Six years ago, the Prisons Service joined with Bio-Sense, a high-tech company headquartered near Tel Aviv, to create a system that would notify them when dogs were barking because of something suspicious.

Bio-Sense recorded the patrol dogs barking in different situations, from playtime to cat encounters to real emergencies. They loaded thousands of these recordings into a computer program to determine “what makes the emergency bark different than the other barks,” said Bio-Sense project manager Orit Netz.

One of the keys turned out to be the dog’s stress level.

Pretty cool. ..bruce w..

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Category: Dogs, Information Technology, Main

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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