Virtual Police — The Revolution Has Begun!

| By Editorial Staff

Nobody can be in two places at the same time, can they? Technically no, they can’t. But technologically … well that’s a different story.

Surveillance systems are nothing new. Homes and businesses have used surveillance cameras for decades to protect their property. With a video camera hooked up and clearly visible, would-be trespassers either:

  • Think twice before doing anything illegal, for fear of being caught on film, or
  • Don’t realize (or care) about the cameras, continue with their devious intentions, and are then recorded by camera

But these legacy surveillance systems, while somewhat effective, have shown their age in recent years. Recording someone “in the act” can be helpful in prosecuting the culprit; however, it doesn’t really do much to prevent the act from even happening.

Now imagine if you could be notified the moment someone trespasses on your property. With real-time footage infiltrating our social media streams and smartphones, couldn’t this type of technology find its way into surveillance?

Yes it can, and yes it has.

Minority Report technology in the real world

VideoIQ (owned by Avigilon Corporation) uses technology for real-time responses to surveillance. This is a significant shift away from the way things were. With legacy surveillance systems, the typical series of events followed a similar path:

  • You discover your home or business burglarized
  • You call the police, and file a report
  • The police then review the tapes to find the moment where the burglar entered your premises
  • Now, assuming the video is of high quality (often times it is not), the police can use the footage to (hopefully) catch the culprit

Real-time surveillance, like that offered by VideoIQ, alerts you when the burglary is taken place. The software’s B.R.A.I.N. (Bootstrap Response Active Intelligence Node/Network) can detect abnormal behavior (like movement after-hours) and alert you of the activity. It’s similar to what banks do these days with abnormal credit card activity – computers sense something’s amiss and alert the bank to contact you.

With this real-time setup, you can now catch perpetrators in the act, or (eerily similar to the Minority Report film and TV series) before the act even occurs. Police can respond to the scene before the trespasser even know what’s happened.

VideoIQ isn’t the first, or only, real-time software looking to help people police their properties from a virtual state.

School safety and surveillance

In 2011, a high school in Tewksbury, Mass., decided to take a proactive stance on security. They installed the SafeWatch security system by Vanguard Managed Solutions, which was designed to vastly improve surveillance while working in conjunction with municipal public safety officials.

While the SafeWatch system allows school officials to monitor activity on a continuous basis, it only notifies public safety officials in the event of an emergency. If an emergency occurs, town police can remotely activate cameras located in the public areas of the school. The images can be viewed – and cameras controlled – from a public safety facility or vehicle off-site. This allows public safety officials to get a real-time view of the affected area and allows them to make informed decisions on how to address the emergency situation.

Real time = the next phase of surveillance

Video surveillance has done wonders to protect properties and capture criminals. But as new technology is introduced, older and outdated systems need to be replaced. There was a time when motion-activated video cameras didn’t exist. But once introduced, it made perfect sense to make this technology a part of the norm.

The new norm is real-time. If we have the capability to stop a crime before it happens, don’t we owe that to ourselves? Why should we sit back helplessly and watch a crime unfold – in the past – when we can watch it in the here and now?

While there’s surely a great deal of controversy surrounding the concept of real-time surveillance, if used appropriately, it can only serve to protect our property and assets. Real-time occurs in Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps it’s time it becomes mainstream in surveillance as well.