Dream Of A Pan-India Security Shield
We don’t still have a physical security shield of all the public and voluntary private CCTV cameras in India. StomatoBot from Pune proposes an ever-evolving AI WatchMan System which will not just make people feel safer but actually ensure it and hold authorities accountable for inaction.
The Indian government is making a push for a white, cashless and digital transaction economy with Demonetization earlier and now GST to tackle black money and tax evaders. We have national systems like Natgrid, Netra, CMS, etc to trace suspicious online transactions, calls, travel itineraries, intercept and analyze internet traffic and other digital footprints. But we don’t still have a physical security shield of all the public and voluntary private CCTV cameras. StomatoBot from Pune proposes an ever-evolving AI WatchMan System which will not just make people feel safer but actually ensure it and hold authorities accountable for inaction.
Even as petty and high-tech cyber crimes are on the rise, nefarious elements are using every loophole in existing security systems to strike at real and online public and private assets, managing to get away scot-free even with murders. Incidents like the November 2013 Bangalore ATM attack happen in broad daylight and no one notices for quite some time. Heinous crimes like the New Delhi and Mumbai rapes and Guwahati public assault of vulnerable girls as well as murders like Dabholkar’s happen in day light and we have to wait for months and years to even find and nab the suspects. What’s more, the criminals are able to use the same modus operandi over and over again, as there is no way to track them in a country with over a billion people.
On the other hand, attempts by the government to monitor and track the real world and online activities of Indian citizens are often derided as grossly inadequate, a breach of privacy or both. There is looming fear that the State, in addition to global internet corporations, may be the next Big Brother, watching everything you do.
How can we reconcile the need for effective, round-the-clock policing as well as the right to privacy? Can we do it at a cost that is not monumental, leaving aside precious financial & human resources for more important things?
We are world’s second most populous nation and the police force is grossly inadequate in sheer numbers. Hence it is no surprise that criminal incidents often lead to calls for installing more Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras.
A NATION-WIDE GRID OF CCTVs might sound like an improbable idea to some. But the existing network of government and public sector-installed Closed Circuit Television cameras and voluntary inputs from the privately held and operated cameras can be virtually networked to create a pan-nation system that will monitor key public arenas, financial institutions, tourism sites and key infrastructure.
However, installing CCTV cameras and forgetting them until something happens, gives us a false sense of security. The truth is most CCTVs cameras go unmonitored and unmaintained. Some even stop functioning and we find out about this only when the police try to access some footage.
NO NUMBER OF HUMAN BEINGS WILL BE ABLE TO MONITOR the terabytes of information being processed on a second-to-second basis. Eyeballing petabytes of video is simply impossible for the eyeballs we employ in police. It also requires lots of patience. But this might be about to change.
Now, Advanced Computer Vision technology can monitor the footage and sound (if not disproved by law) for movement and faces to cross match it with intelligence agencies’ databases, and look for persons who are currently red-flagged by such agencies.
We just need to bring these cameras online, and link them up in an encrypted grid using advanced Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies. The data from these live streams can be processed and analyzed in near-real time to produce a wealth of information, which will be a significant input to crime and terrorism fighting arms of the state.
The applications of this go beyond mere security purposes — think of the number of missing persons that can be traced quickly using the system! And how we can track the movement of alleged culprits AFTER they commit a crime and are on their way to committing another one.
THE HIGH VOLUME OF DATA in countries with high surveillance, like the U.S. and the U.K., is a problem due to the sheer volume of footage available, making looking for a suspect as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. With smart cities and proliferation of CCTV cameras in India, this is a problem waiting to happen in India. Retrofitting too late at a large scale can be an issue, hence it would be wiser to begin thinking about a modern AI-based system like the one StomatoBot Technologies has come up with, which also by the way can be retrofitted to CCTV cameras almost instantaneously as it does not involving installing any hardware or software at the premises of the CCTV system, but done entirely on cloud.
THE INTELLIGENT SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM will work on its own 24X7, red-flagging incidents of thefts (in ATMs, for example), those of violence and arson and send out live alerts to the security authorities & concerned local police authorities, making their response faster and justice rendered sooner.
Privacy will be ensured by allowing the law enforcement agencies to query the database ONLY FOR persons against whom judicial proceedings have been initiated or who have been legally reported missing. This will, however, not render the security grid less effective. The data will be solely used to make the system more accurate for training and research purposes underpinned by our civil liberties and guiding principles of necessity, proportionality and accountability. These will be ensured by tight authorization controls, easy opt-out data retention policies and periodic & authorized third-party audits.
The grid will also raise alerts when there is a malfunction of any device, connection or power loss to any camera in the loop, along with the the last seen images. The system will also detect and report blocking in the field of view of a camera. Motion and faces are detected instantly, if given a database of faces to re-identify from, the system will do that too and track the person if required any time the person of interest appears in front of any camera that it has access to. StomatoBot Technologies has been doing deep research for years in Computer Vision and Deep Learning to make this incredible system into a reality. For places that cannot afford a swanky state-of-the-art Control Room equipped with humans in shifts for 24x7 CCTV cameras monitoring, this kind of system comes as a boon saving them Crores of rupees per year.
The system will not just help the police in quick investigation and provide key evidence for subsequent judicial trials but also make the police forces more accountable for quick action (as they depend on a machine generated input with almost zero for delay), making dispensation of justice quicker in a country where the courts already have more than 2 Crore cases pending in district courts, with criminal cases accounting for almost double the number of civil ones. Also the evidence provided by this system is black and white and leaves no room for grey area or benefit of doubt to nab criminals and would help us spare innocents. This system will also help find missing persons. help curb/mitigate riots and stampedes and may even provide hitherto unimaginable insights, patterns and clues to how bad things begin in the first place taking us nearer to the utopian crime prevention possibility of a Minority Report or a Person of Interest.
THE REALITY IS that we may cry hoarse about state surveillance and likely intrusion of privacy in the public space, but we cannot deny the fact that the same inputs (hidden cameras, ubiquitous mobile cameras and location inputs) are being used by companies to target and snatch, even destroy, private and public temporal and financial assets.
If India does not evolve a security system that is privacy-respecting, efficient, cost-effective, it risks falling into the dark age of information technology where non-state actors will be able to do what that government does not even have the wherewithal to.
This is the right time to do it, as more and more people come on board the digital revolution. As Elon Musk and Vladimir Putin both acknowledge the enormous power of AI, we as Indians should not be left behind in this technology like we were in developing & manufacturing personal computers, internet services and mobile phones of global standards. Please encourage learning and development of AI technologies wherever you can and in whatever way you can in India.
P.S.: StomatoBot Technologies is ready with the Version 1.0 of its offering called
Your ‘WatchMan’ who never sleeps!
Please call / WhatsApp Anand on +91–9766658628 / +91–9975874614 to request a limited time free demo if you have a pre-installed CCTV System & Broadband Internet. You may also comment below OR fill a name-email form here OR email us on anand(at)StomatoBot(dot)com with ‘Need demo’ as subject.
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This article was first published on microtales.in here.