Fighting Crime with Closed-Circuit Cameras

By Coles, Clifton | The Futurist, May-June 2005 | Go to article overview

Fighting Crime with Closed-Circuit Cameras


Coles, Clifton, The Futurist


Future surveillance cameras may do more than monitor a scene--they'll assess a situation and call the cops if something is amiss. Closed-circuit television cameras that can think for themselves are being developed by British scientists to identify criminals on the spot and alert the police immediately.

Using computers to recognize and match features given by witnesses--such as color, size, or shape--these thinking, closed-circuit cameras can even recognize a lone suitcase as a possible security threat, say researchers at the University of Surrey. The new system, dubbed Reveal, will automatically alert the proper personnel to combat the threat of terrorism.

"We will program computers so that they will automatically detect and register criminal activity while it is happening," says Bogdan Vrusias of Surrey's computing department. "Criminals can be caught red-handed, with the computer program recognizing instantly images such as broken glass or violent behavior recorded by the high-tech CCTV footage."

The system works by teaching a computer to associate key words with video images. "In the case of a car break-in, there might be a description of a suspect wearing red trousers and an approximate time when the incident took place. …

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