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CCTV networks and biometric surveillance

CCTV networks and biometric surveillance

In public and private spaces, the presence of surveillance cameras for security is commonplace. Either as closed-circuit television (CCTV) in city streets or as home security measures installed in a residential building, the technology is adapting to pressures for quicker identification, more automation, and 24/7 observance, through the use of face biometrics and artificial intelligence.

CCTV networks are integrated camera feeds created to cover a target area. Through cameras located around corners, walls, or directly above doors, they allow a building’s security staff to monitor the movement of people within its vision and see any potential threats and dangers. The video feed is watched live or recorded for later use, possibly even with AI analytics triggering the recording of a potential incident. Today, CCTV technology can also live-stream footage via the internet.

Home security is an area of rapid growth for CCTV as well. Internet Protocol (IP) cameras connect to a local internet connection, and unlike traditional CCTV, are decentralized. The recorded data from an IP camera can be stored internally in a flash drive or saved on a cloud database. The technology of IP cameras has progressed to allow a user to check on a live feed through their home computer or smartphone app. The ease of use with IP cameras and their ready internet connection makes them a popular consumer electronic today as a relatively affordable and simple home security measure that is also convenient.

With constant surveillance of an area, CCTV grants the ability to observe, report and respond to hazards and threats without the need for security personnel or police to be physically present. CCTV advocates say it bolsters public safety as a deterrent against crime, can record crimes to convey evidence to law enforcement officials, and even track signs of infection to prevent public health crises.

Facial recognition is among AI analysis tools that represent a significant upgrade to the capabilities of CCTV. Computers can scan, store and recognize human faces to identify individuals against a database. Advanced versions can compare faces to a government or police database to single out people who may be dangerous or a person of interest in a case.

Artificial intelligence in surveillance also developed in tandem with facial recognition as technology that can perform the tasks of security personnel without a human involved. With rules set by a programmer, the AI learns and enforces certain behaviors and actions with less probability of human error, and can watch live feeds for hours on end without becoming exhausted or overwhelmed by the volume of video.

An increasingly common application of video surveillance with facial recognition is retail loss prevention, in which a watch list is populated with images of people previously caught shoplifting, often with permission as part of the offender’s release agreement.

But concerns over the loss of privacy, overreach of power, targeting of government dissenters, lack of transparency and biased data that leads to flawed law enforcement have dogged modern video surveillance.

Click here for more explainers on concepts in the field of biometrics.

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