Video & Cameras Used for Public Surveillance Have Leaped Milestones

Article written by Mark I. Brodie, President MiB Mediaworks LLC for

In recent years, public surveillance has grown exponentially due to the use of gigabit networks, hi-resolution IP streaming cameras, and advanced sound recording and technology. This meteor growth has created a new global market for UGVs, UUVs, UAVs and drones, forcing us to look at these surveillance tools with growing concerns.

The growth and development of communication and surveillance systems in the name of public safety and crime prevention, has never been more extensive. The public and private stakeholders, as well as government entities, are increasingly adding newer, faster, and smarter technologies to public spaces. In my opinion, technological advancements are bound to create more ways of monitoring and documenting human behavior and, if handled responsibly, helping keep us safe.

Broadcasting identity and actions to the world

The use of laptops and phones, connected to wireless networks or Bluetooth, enable identities to be broadcast to the world from any physical location. Facial recognition technology on remote controlled IP cameras is becoming more widespread. It not only detects a person’s identity, but can recognize, re-identify, extract, track and pick individuals from a crowd. These systems can be installed anywhere, monitoring public and private space 24/7.  The adoption of these technologies enables agencies that are tasked with safeguarding the public to do their jobs more effectively.

Technological feats enabling public surveillance

Technological developments are enabling appliances, computer software, mobile phones, and even the clothes we buy, to store and provide more information to help simplify and manage our lives. Google searches, location and trip data are constantly being globally monitored by extremely sophisticated server networks becoming integrated into larger systems.  For instance, Snakebots, robotic bugs, drones shaped like hummingbirds, and micro motes are being installed with tiny computers, cameras and sensors that record information. These technologies can identify potential criminals, generate credit ratings, and categorize public behavior as risky or dangerous to protect us from a host of dangers.

Corporate sector surveillance for marketing purposes

Monitoring individuals isn’t limited to public safety. Private sector corporations are using technology to target potential leads to increase sales. In some shopping malls, customers who pause to look at a digital kiosks or billboards can be seen by computer systems allowing storeowners to feed discount pricing and deals into a user’s phone or tablet.  This is a leap from traditional print or billboard advertising and can contribute to cost savings for everyone. Corporations are better able to serve their customers by profiling their likes and dislikes to then make offers accordingly. And the customers benefit because they are now exposed to advertisements for products and services they are actually looking for.

Some airports globally are replacing security checkpoints with a tunnel. Walking through a tunnel, indexes you with artificial intelligence using multiple cameras. It then decides whether the passenger should be stopped or may pass through. The tunnel appears to be a pleasant marketing experience for the traveler and simultaneously helps security agencies record and store biometrics and other data to a database. This information can be used to prevent potentially dangerous people from crossing borders, getting on planes, or entering public spaces where they could possibly do harm to others.

Public surveillance is essential to maintain safety, security and order. The support for surveillance devices, combined with competent law enforcement organizations, comes from the fact that they are more effective, less intrusive and psychologically less draining. Lawmakers the world-over appear to share the sentiment that surveillance techniques are a more convenient form of maintaining safety and thus new laws are being proposed each day to make the use of camera surveillance more effective.