“Smart Surveillance”, a big milestone in the surveillance industry
Smart surveillance systems have really revolutionised the process of monitoring and observing any place of interest. A smart surveillance system is software-based on Artificial Intelligence that monitors a site of interest with the aid of multiple cameras. This surveillance is considered “smart” because the software is equipped with Machine Learning tools and Computer Vision techniques that are trained to identify any suspicious person or irregular activity. The software detects any such instance and alerts the monitoring authorities immediately.
A peek into the past
Life before smart surveillance was quite difficult. Everything required manual monitoring, whether for security reasons or to ensure the efficiency of various processes in a workplace. There was no way of collecting visual evidence of an incident other than eye-witnesses that were present at the location. Eye-witnesses could be confused and misunderstand an event or simply be bribed or scared to not side with the truth. It was a challenge for law enforcement officials when making sensitive decisions regarding criminal situations. Even after the technology of using cameras to monitor places was introduced, there needed to be people physically present to watch these live surveillance videos to detect any irregular activity. This may have eased the process a bit but it still remained prone to human error. It did provide the opportunity to collect evidence by recording the events of a day but this was helpful only after something had happened. These systems were unable to detect suspicious persons or activity beforehand.
Smart Surveillance, the need of the hour
Smart surveillance has helped ease the process for humans, saving them time, cost and energy. There are various types of smart surveillance systems, mainly categorised as wireless or wired. A wireless system depends on internet connectivity to monitor a location and does not need wires to connect the cameras or synchronise with one another or to additional monitoring devices such as a laptop or a mobile phone. Wired surveillance, as the name suggests, depends on devices wired together to monitor a certain location. It may sound like a hassle but the biggest advantage it has to offer that these remain unaffected by Wi-Fi signal degradation and are less likely to be hacked. Regardless of the type of surveillance system, as long as it works on AI-powered tools, it is able to offer excellent results.
Smart surveillance is quite literally a need in the modern world. It not only eliminates the need for constant physical monitoring by individuals but also offers the opportunity to immediately alert authorities of an alarming situation. In modern cities, smart surveillance has become integral to offer safety and security to citizens. These surveillance systems are able to detect various events of concern, such as fire, crowd estimation, traffic blockades and controls, smart parking systems etc. These systems depend on smart cameras that are equipped to conduct an intelligent analysis of video input to monitor events and alert authorities accordingly.
This surveillance can be useful to various institutions and authorities such as;
- Government Officials
- Police & Armed forces
- Law Enforcement Officials
- Educational Institutions
- Healthcare Institutions
- Businesses and Workplaces
- Departmental & Utility stores
- Service Centres (Banks, Salons, Automobile maintenance etc.)
Benefits of Smart Surveillance
Smart surveillance offers various advantages to users, for instance;
- Offers safety and security from internal and external threats
- Improves productivity by monitoring workforce
- Relieves Management of tedious monitoring of the workforce
- Lowers the possibility of criminal activity
- Lowers possibility of businesses suffering a financial loss in the forms of shoplifting, theft, damage to property etc.
- Offers a complete visual record of any unfortunate incident
Retailers are leveraging computer vision technology to improve security measures, enable cashier-less stores, automate inventory operations, gather valuable insight about consumer behaviour, and offer new and excellent customer care. The smart surveillance technology allows retail stores to keep a track of their shelves and inventory, to keep a track of products that need to replaced or refilled on the store shelf, automatically updating the need to do so in the inventory too. According to the 28th annual 2019 National Retail Security Survey, in the United States, the retail industry experienced a loss of an estimated $50.6 billion, due to events involving theft, shoplifting or fraud. Loss prevention teams in the United States suggest allocating additional resources to prevent loss. These additional resources now include technology that can mimic the cognitive processing of the human visual system. This surveillance software are equipped with computer vision tools and machine learning techniques to detect, assess and analyse events. This allows retailers to identify irregular activity and spot suspicious persons in a location, despite their attempt to alter their appearance and to avoid the camera.
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Governments and law enforcement authorities use video surveillance in various circumstances such as investigation of crimes, protection of urban societies and government buildings, traffic controls, crowd estimation, fire breakouts, estimation of impact by natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones etc. It has enabled governments to fully understand the gravity of a situation, thus, to make informed decisions for crisis management. It has proven to be very helpful to ensure the smooth functioning of small towns and cities.
The Covid-19 virus has taken the world by storm, putting the world in a crisis situation that nobody was prepared for. The virus is spreading aggressively and limiting people from performing their routine activities. Even the slightest carelessness could result in the virus spreading from one person to another. This required extreme surveillance measures that would allow people to continue with their daily activities while also making sure that they remain safe. RevolveAI has designed a surveillance application that can be used to monitor people in a given location. The software operates on Computer Vision tools to detect any breach in adherence to the social distancing standards of procedure. For instance, two individuals at a four feet distance are considered to be in the safe zone, a two feet distance is considered as a caution and anything less than two feet away is considered a highly alarming situation. The application is trained to monitor the distance maintained between people in a given location. This smart surveillance software allows various institutions, like schools or offices, to resume functioning while also making sure that the virus is not spread from one person to another. Moreover, this software is able to detect whether people are wearing masks and gloves or not. In case of any breach in adherence to the mandatory SOPs, the application sends a notification to the managing authorities.
Smart surveillance may not be limited to software dealing with visual input only. There are various surveillance systems that are used to analyse significant events that impact society. Disease surveillance data is one such potent aspect that is used to determine the need for public health action. In case of a public health emergency response, an in-depth epidemiology analysis may be used to understand the effect on populations, the nature of the disease or exposure, and to inform control activities
Concerns regarding Smart Surveillance
A major disadvantage of smart surveillance is concerns of privacy, especially in the workplace, educational institutions, healthcare institutions etc. The purpose of surveillance systems may be to let people feel safe and secure in a place, however, they may object to being constantly monitored and filmed. It may make them extra conscious, uncomfortable or may make them feel like they aren’t being trusted. Workforces at any organisation or institution not feeling entirely comfortable can affect their products which can result in poor output. Moreover, smart surveillance systems can be very costly. Small to medium enterprises and individuals needing home security may not be able to afford all the hardware and software required to support an efficient and fully functional smart surveillance system. These systems may also still be prone to hackers.
The advantages offered by smart surveillance to the modern world definitely outweigh the concerns. Initially, it may seem like a hefty investment to one installed but the safety and security it has to offer will prove to be beneficial in the long run, resulting in better performance of workforces and increased profitability. The technology industry is constantly evolving, providing better products and services in every industry, therefore, a smart surveillance system is needed to keep up with the pace of innovation!