A popular application of observation systems is surveillance. Unfortunately the way our world is evolving, this application is becoming increasingly important. Earlier this week we had a great visit by Dr. Arun Hampapur of IBM. He leads computer vision activity at IBM Watson research labs and video surveillance is becoming one of the major focus of his research. He described systems that they have developed and are doing pilots at many places. This is the first video surveillance system that stores its detected events in a database so peole can go and explore and prospect events there. Very interesting system. A good first effort in the direction of observation systems (obsys in short) that I have seen in surveillance area.
Today there is this very interesting article in NYT that talks about cameras being put in subway systems in New York. Another example of deployment of obsys. This article says:
Officials unveiled the high-tech future of transit security in New York City yesterday: an ambitious plan to saturate the subways with 1,000 video cameras and 3,000 motion sensors and to enable cellphone service in 277 underground stations – but not in moving trains – for the first time.
It describes the effort
At the center of the effort will be a dense network of cameras that can zoom, pivot and rotate, all while transmitting and recording images of vulnerable areas, from dark tunnels under the East River to bustling subway platforms in Midtown. Each camera will capture distances up to 300 feet and will cost about $1,200. A selected location could have 2 to 30 cameras. For now, there will be no cameras on trains and buses.
Of course, once these systems are in place people can think of using the system for some other peaceful applications also. These systems could be used to help people in heavy traffic time or to analyze traffic patterns to understand the design of spaces for better utilization and other similar applications. That will be the beauty of obsys — once in place for one application, the data can be used for other applications also.
It’s been a long time coming, I guess. A surveillance camera placed in a strategic place can serve a lot of purposes. This is good news. People can somehow feel safer at the very least.