Summary of Surveillance Technology

Yi Li's Research

Yi Li's Research Among the growing number of surveillance sites on the web, there are many sites that are beginning to emerge that have a strictly research orientation. Yi Li at the University of Washington has produced several sites reporting the results of a new Content Based image Retrieval. This new technology allows surveillance cameras to think for themselves and determine what they are looking at. Through complex computer algorithms, the images captured by the camera are analyzed by the computer and the content can be identified in numerous ways. This technology could allow surveillance cameras to tell the year, make and model of every vehicle driving down the freeway. It also allows surveillance cameras to determine the difference between a person and an animal or between a tree and a boat. With smarter cameras, less time and man power is necessary to keep track of surveillance monitors. Every time a noteworthy event takes place, the human monitor can be simply notified and replay the tape of the suspicious or desired event caught on tape. A more elaborate explanation of how this technology works can be found in the report written by Li, Bilmes, and Shapiro.

Web Surveillance

Many companies are scrambling to provide the latest technology in Web Surveillance. Similar to the concept of a web cam, companies like Easy Watch are trying to find ways to allow employers or curious citizens to plant surveillance cameras around their environment and monitor them from home at their PC or while mobile via a wireless palm or pocket PC. This technology would allow employers to monitor their employees at any time to keep track of their productivity and make sure everyone remains on task. Some people like the crew at Gai Security view this new "job security" as a step in the wrong direction and have turned to the web to examine the implications of constant monitoring at work. However, this service is also being presented as a way for average citizens to make themselves feel safer at home and abroad. By planting surveillance cameras at home, an individual could keep watch over the house or the kids while at work or on a quick trip to the store. It has also been suggested that this technology could play a critical role in the war on terror by allowing more citizens to watch out for their environments and report and track suspicious characters.

Cell Phone Surveillance

In the previous decade many have suggested that the world will become a place devoid of privacy where "Big Brother" is constantly watching. However, some new theories are beginning to emerge that present a different approach. Dr. Donovan of Realnetworks is suggesting that we should be more concerned about Little Bother and the innumerable surveillance cameras that will be lurking in everyone's pocket in as little as two years. These Surveillance cameras will be able to stream and download live videos and will hit the market summer 2004. Already these Surveillance Cameras have caused trouble in exams and locker rooms across the country. The development of this technology holds promising possibilities as it may allow citizens to record life and perhaps catch a criminal by recording a crime. However, it also causes many to question how all these little cameras may contribute to further invasions of privacy and the full implications of constantly being surveyed.