Video Surveillance Scrutinized

As video surveillance continues to push into public spaces across the United States, a rising discourse often centers on the erosion of privacy rights and the efficacy of the systems’ highly-touted promises. To discuss the topic, Security Sales & Integration invited Frank Pao, president and CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vidient, a developer of behavior recognition and video analytics software and appliances, into The Hot Seat.

What would you tell someone who says, “Video analytics are of little use outside laboratory-like environments where all the variables are controlled”?

That may have been the case several years ago, but not today. Technology can’t identically match human senses. However, a select number of high-end companies have employed highly sophisticated analytics proven to work in rigorous, real-world conditions, indoors and outside, and successfully deployed in high security places like international airports. The key is using the right analytics to greatly increase effectiveness of humans and/or other technology.

Does the security industry have a role to play in fostering wider video surveillance acceptance by advocating stringent civic guidelines to guard against abuses?

Absolutely. Privacy rights and civil liberties have to be considered in any surveillance implementation. These liberties must be weighed against public policy considerations such as individual safety and security. Sophisticated analytics solutions can assist through its technology, such as by masking faces on the video.

Civil libertarians warn of “chilling the free expression of political dissent” if people are less likely to express themselves because of the fear of being taped by law enforcement. A legitimate concern?

If the free expression of political dissent is done legally, being taped shouldn’t impact this activity. If the dissent is done illegally and publicly, it is generally intended to promote the cause as arrest-worthy and increase publicity through arrest, and therefore video again wouldn’t cause a chilling effect. Where the dissent is intended to harm people or property illegally, then any chilling effect would be a positive deterrent to protect the community at large.  Security Sales & Integration

Tagged with: Hot Seat Privacy

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