Doktor Jons Guide to the "Use and Application of CCTV"
This is the "Civil Liberties" Section - The future of CCTV

So would you like to play "Spot the CCTV Camera?". Eagle eyed visitors may recognise the profusion of street furniture, surrounding a single heritage dome camera keeping watch over part  of Londons' prestigious Oxford Street shopping area.
TRUSTED - Target Recognition Using Surveillance Technology for Evidence and Detection - A campaign to improve the effectiveness of existing video surveillance security systems.

- As the technology moves on ... -


CCTV - The shape of things to come

With Automatic Facial Recognition Systems (AFRS), the computer scans your facial image and compares it against a database of known miscreants; the system will then not assume that you are anything more than a dodgy looking character, until the comparisons have been completed; in effect, you are assumed to be guilty, until the computer decides otherwise.

By implication, these systems somewhat fly in the face (if you’ll pardon the pun) of the existing legal principle of innocent till proven guilty.
If you think AFRS techniques may possibly give cause for concern, then perhaps you should consider the implications for Automatic Predictive Behaviour Analysis (APBA - sometimes also referred to as "Gait" monitoring). These computer based systems are currently being researched and developed to allow the automated analysis of an individuals behaviour.

The theory is that many criminals behave in a particular way before committing their crimes; so for example, before a Little Old Lady has her handbag snatched from her arm in a main shopping street, the thief will approach rapidly on foot from behind. Fair enough you might think, but then the only obvious difference between a law abiding jogger and a law defying mugger, is that one will briefly pause beside the victim, whereas the other will just keep on running.

No prizes for guessing which is which! The chances are that the APBA system may well ‘flag’ both individuals as being equally set on criminal intent. If this draws the CCTV system operators attention to a crime about to happen, then it’s worked well. If however, the operator is compelled to concentrate on a ‘non incident’, their attention may well have been diverted away from a rapidly developing problem in clear view of yet another camera.

Likewise, where a semi intelligent approach to surveillance requires the camera or computer to decide what may or may not be of interest for an observer, without the benefit of a continuous back up record system, vital evidence or information of interest, may be lost or indeed totally disregarded by the technology; and this is what we call progress!

Both AFRS and APBA along with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), are part of a family of computer based evaluation techniques known as "Video Analytics", which apart from developing rapidly in both complexity and increasing accuracy, are also now being built into some high end camera units, to provide semi intelligent video surveillance where the camera takes on a more proactive role in terms of subject monitoring.

We already have the capability to track moving targets using certain specialist moving cameras, but as the latest generation of digital 'IP Video' cameras increase in resolution (multi Mega Pixel units), it's actually not that far off seeing the introduction of multiple target tracking camera schemes using a network of fixed cameras.

When these are introduced operationally within the next year or two, dedicated computers will be able to 'lock on' to any number of individuals moving around in a camera image, and then automatically track their movements anywhere within the camera scheme ... and all without the need for a camera operator.

CCTV - The shape of things to come - continued >>

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