Who's watching you? And are you okay with that?
Came across an Oct. 22, 2009 Reuters story that highlighted the results of a Harris Poll Survey that showed 96 percent of Americans were okay with video surveillance used in public in order to combat terrorism. I wrote a piece on the opportunities available to security companies in an age where people expect more public surveillance. I actually couldn't find this "recent" Harris Poll at Harris Interactive, the company that runs the Harris Poll. The most recent Harris Polls on video surveillance I can find online are from February and August of 2006... not really that recent... I've got an email back with the hard data from Harris. Looks like this poll was conducted from May-June 2009. Hopefully they'll put it up online soon. Regardless, it appears the piece is less a news story on a recent poll and more a sales pitch for Behavioral Recognition Systems, a software development company that provides "cognitive video analytics software," that purports to learn the particulars of an environment. Their website also has an audio pitch that starts up automatically and plays regardless of whether you want it to or not... I hate that. The problem, according to the Harris Poll piece, is that "citizen support of video surveillance rests on the assumption that more cameras will result in more secure environments, but that isn't the case. Recently, the security staff at the George Washington Bridge in New York City--responsible for monitoring bridge cameras and security kiosks--was photographed sleeping on the job. Thus, camera proliferation alone ... will not solve the problem." Enter the MacGuffin, in this case analytics from BRS Labs. We here at SSN have written about this problem before, highlighting what many of you are doing to combat the problem of too-thin human resources, including easily overwhelmed or fatigued human attention span. We're all aware that adoption of analytics has been slower than it could be due to over promising capabilities. The November issue has a stats piece (linked in the previous sentence and available in SSN's premium section) on the drivers for future analytics growth. It seems to me, however, that with the price of video coming down, coupled with advances in analytics and wide-spread acceptance of being monitored there should be a lot of opportunity out there for the security industry to get into monitoring of public spaces.