Companies Developing Crowd Analysis Programs To Detect 'Abnormalities' In Behavior And Match Faces Against Giant Databases
from the watching-over-you dept
One of the reasons that the total surveillance programs of the NSA and GCHQ are possible is that computers continue to become more powerful and cheaper, allowing ever-more complex analyses to be conducted, including those that were simply not feasible before. Here's another example of the kind of large-scale monitoring that is now possible, as reported by Nikkei Asian Review:
NEC announced that it has developed the world's first crowd behavior analysis technology. Based on the simulated behavioral patterns exhibited by people in emergencies, the system is designed to detect any abnormalities in the behavior of congested public places.
This is very similar to an EU-funded project called "INDECT":
The primary objective is to develop advanced and innovative algorithms for human decision support in combating terrorism and other criminal activities, such as human trafficking, child pornography, detection of dangerous situations (e.g. robberies) and the use of dangerous objects (e.g. knives or guns) in public spaces. Efficient tools for dealing with such situations are crucial to ensuring the safety of citizens.
Like INDECT, the key justification for the NEC surveillance system is to "prevent crimes and terrorist attacks". Another Japanese company is also exploiting the immense power of computer systems to offer blanket surveillance:
Hitachi Kokusai Electric began marketing a new surveillance system that can search and identify a target individual by using an enormous volume of recorded footage from surveillance cameras. The company extracts facial features of individuals -- including profile shape, eye size and the shape of a nose bridge -- and stores them in a database. The system can then compare the features of the person in question against this data. It can complete the search within one second using a database of 36 million faces.
In other words, the claim is that this system could scale up to store facial features of the entire world. And it's not just the Japanese who will be making money from spying on you:
This search technology could be used to quickly identify terrorists in public places. The company said the system could register faces of up to 7 billion people if 50 servers are linked up.
EMC of the U.S., a leading information-technology storage hardware provider, has developed a surveillance system that uses external storage technology. The system can hold data of up to 20 petabytes by linking up as many as 144 storage devices. This is enough to store 13 years of continuous footage from 100 cameras.
What's truly frightening about all these systems is that this is just the beginning. As computers become faster, and storage cheaper, it's easy to imagine the output from every surveillance device on the planet being stored forever, and constantly re-analyzed to find those awkward "abnormalities", AKA individuals...