Could building systems to track us on the streets improve privacy?

Extending the state’s ability to track you via the millions of CCTV cameras that watch our streets every day would generally be perceived as an erosion of privacy.

In fact, the opposite could be true, says one of the men building the computer systems to automate CCTV monitoring in cities around world.

Cyrille Bataller is managing director with the Accenture’s Emerging Technology group, which recently tested a video analytics system on CCTV around the city-state of Singapore, as part of the government’s Safe City programme.

The system automatically monitored video feeds, creating anonymized data about the movements of people and traffic across the city, monitoring the state of the streets, and triggering alerts for public disorder, flood risks and other incidents

In a video analytics solution a computer doesn’t have any bias,” he said, saying the argument could be extended to using facial recognition technologies to pick out select individuals from a CCTV feed.

“If there’s an operator watching a camera to look for individuals of interest, he’s got a watch list but he can’t help but recognise a politician, a movie star, his sister-in-law. Even if they’re not part of his list he will see them and that’s where the privacy is challenged,” he said.

“[With an automated system] even if the face is a well-known public figure, if it doesn’t match any of the faces in the watch list or in the person’s of interest list they would be ignored. You increase data privacy by removing bias through automation.”

While some may have concerns about authorities mining data about citizens’ daily lives ,  Bataller argues that eliminating manual analysis of CCTV feed reduces the potential for unwarranted snooping.

About Aindra Systems, a start-up with Mobile Visual Identification & Tracking Systems

Aindra Systems is among one of the very few companies in India working in the domain of Artificial Intelligence, specifically Computer Vision creating products which solves the problems of huge magnitude. The current problems addressed by the mobile our systems:

– Identifying people on-the-field, on-the-go to enhance the organization productivity.
– Providing a unified solution for the in office and on-the-field employees.
– OneClick attendance of the students in the classroom of educational institutes.
– Recognizing the valued customers of the luxury retail store as soon as they walk into their premise and creating the heat maps.

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