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California transit to deploy automated surveillance technologies

San Francisco's Municipal Transit Authority recently announced plans to deploy a number of advanced video surveillance cameras throughout 12 subway stations in the area. The innovative security system is capable of using complex algorithms that recognize out-of-the-ordinary behavior without human judgment, according to a report by Fast Company.

The technology will monitor regular activity in the stations for several weeks to develop a baseline for human behavior and any deviations from these metrics, including loitering or abnormal volumes in passengers, will trigger an alert to local authorities. Approximately 22 cameras will be installed at each station and officials will be able to monitor the integrated security system from a location off-site, the news source said.

By leveraging time recognition technologies, the advanced surveillance solutions will be capable of determining abnormal behavior at specific times during the day. The algorithm also monitors velocity and spatial anomalies and alerts authorities of any unusual behavior that may turn malicious, the news provider noted. The technologies can do all of this without requiring human observations, which may limit situations caused from biased opinions or profiling.

While similar technologies are being implemented throughout the country to improve efficiency and potentially lower costs through automation, concerns regarding privacy are emerging in the market, according to a TechEye report. Some civil liberty and privacy advocates believe passive surveillance services may wrongfully track individuals based on what is considered "normal."

"It's far from clear that delegating more decisions to computers is going to improve security, rather than swamping staff with false positives and infringing on the civil liberties of those who, through no fault of their own, trigger algorithms in some distant control room," Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said, according to TechEye.

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