Surveillance Gets Smarter

from the more-than-just-a-recording dept

By this point, everyone knows that you’re being watched, listened to and recorded just about everywhere you go. Often, companies justify this for either security purposes or in order to provide better customer service. Of course, up until now, people pointed out that all that recording just made a huge pile of data — none of it very useful. Going through all of it was more of a pain than anything else. However, it appears that technology is coming to the rescue for a few different types of surveillance. Last week we talked about some new techniques that law enforcement was using, but it appears the commercial sector is jumping on the trend just as quickly. On the phone side, new tools are getting better at monitoring phone conversations for when a problem arises or tracking certain words or phrases to get a general sense of what customers are saying. As for video cameras, a similar bit of pattern recognition means security guards don’t need to just stare at tapes, since the system is supposedly trained to notice suspicious behavior on its own and alert security. It’s good to see these routine tasks automated in some sense, but it remains to be seen how effective they are. It also raises the risk that people begin to rely on them too much, and they then miss out on certain things a human would have spotted, but the computer does not.

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Comments on “Surveillance Gets Smarter”

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rijit (profile) says:


What we really need is a YouTube site for security footage. Where we can all go check how stupid criminals get caught. Big Brother is always watching and can get this footage, why shouldn’t we at least enjoy seeing ourselves on video saying “Hi Mom!” It is what I say to the cameras everytime I spot one as I flip them the bird.

joseph (user link) says:

Re: Gee...

right on man!! bib brothers watchin 1984 listen once hes watchin at least make him feel stupid for not havin nethin else to do! all im sayin is that this crap is goin to make ppl loose jobs itz bad enuff were out sourcing jobs to other countries now were starting to outsource them to machines who wont be as good as a human neway right? y not give sum1 a job to review all that footage delete the unnesasery and go on w/ lyfe
utterly disturbing waste of tyme

? says:

I suspect that a couple of different things will happen here:

1. Our faith and confidence in the technology will grow beyond what the technology is able to do, and we will just become lazy and assume that those who are caught by the technology are doing wrong (even if they didn’t).

2. The technology and its creators will learn from the mistakes that are made, and will learn to better spot real crime as it happens.

Tyshaun says:

another consequence of this tech...

The biggest problem I foresee with this technology is that it will promote an increase in the use of surveillance. As noted in your article, a lot of the smarter companies realized that more cameras/recording devices isn’t necessarily better because the sheer volume of data generated is often impossible to effectively process.

However, as the technologies above become more mature, wouldn’t it lead to more companies taking a more aggressive stance on information gathering? I am not nieve enough to think I’m not being watched already but I feel a little twinge in my stomach when I think that technology is making the task more efficient.

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