Sign Up Now For the First-Ever Seattle Police Hackathon!

SPDHackathonDo you have Big Ideas about governmental transparency and open source data? Are you a 1337 h4x0r? Then sign up now to attend the Seattle Police Department’s first-ever HACKATHON on December 19th.

SPD is working to release more video than ever before, while striking the right balance between transparency and privacy. That’s where you come in.

During the past five and a half years, SPD patrol car cameras have recorded 314,636 hours (or 364 Terabytes) of 911 responses, and interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects. In keeping with Washington State privacy laws, SPD video specialists must often manually redact or remove faces and voices from those recordings to protect the identities of victims, witnesses, and juveniles. A simple redaction in a one minute video can take specialists upwards of half-an-hour, whereas more complicated edits—like blurring multiple faces or pieces of audio—can take much, much longer.

With 1,612,554 videos already on our servers—and more on the way through our upcoming body cam pilot program—our department is looking for a better, faster way redact those videos and make them accessible as public records.

This painstaking redaction process takes a significant amount of time, severely limiting the speed at which SPD can make video recordings available.

We’re looking for a few good hackers who can help automate the process of:

  • Blurring or redacting faces, license plates and audio in recordings, while leaving officers un-obscured
  • Transcribing, subtitling and time-stamping audio from videos

We’ve uploaded a sample video (broken into three .zip files) and we’ll post additional clips next week. Before you get coding, please note that any redaction software you dream up must leave recordings in their original format:

Our cameras currently record in H.264 (MPEG4) at 720×480, 3.5mbps.

Videos recorded prior to 2013 are in MPEG2.

The frame types include typical MPEG GOP structure, including I, P and B frames.

If you understood any of that, sign up for our Hackathon and bring your brain, coding skills, and laptop to SPD Headquarters on December 19th. Attendance is limited to the first 25 people who sign up.

SPD COO Mike Wagers and video and tech experts Bill Schrier and Grant Fredericks will be on-hand to help crowd-source a solution to our video processing problem. We’ll have WiFi available and lunch will be provided courtesy of the Seattle Police Foundation.

Update 12/8: Due to popular demand we’ve added 10 more spots at our Hackathon. Get ’em before they’re gone!