AI Is Making Constant Video Surveillance a Reality

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Oct 22, 2019

Organizations have made extensive use of video for some time. We expect there to be security cameras in stores and factories. While these are sometimes monitored live, they are usually used after an incident to see what happened. AI changes that.

AI can constantly keep an eye on the security cameras in a store to detect shoplifters. It can be used in hospitals to ensure dementia patients don’t wander off. The AI in your self-driving car doesn’t just use cameras to look at the road; they are being trained to look at the driver to ensure they’re awake and not looking at their cellphone. AI can use cameras to keep an eye open for loitering, smoking or someone who has fallen down. The power is amplified by facial recognition; it doesn’t just know someone is smoking – it knows their name.

The easiest way to think about this is that an AI can constantly monitor video feeds. Now that it can do this, what do you want it to do?

The current AIs have many limitations; however, that’s a technical matter to be sorted out for each particular application. Management should start with the assumption that the ongoing video surveillance they would like is, or soon will be, possible.

The most obvious application is safety. If factory or hospital workers are meant to be exhibiting certain behaviors (e.g., keeping aisles clear, washing their hands), then AI-equipped cameras can ensure it’s happening.

Managers need to be concerned about ethics and employees’ reaction; however, if security cameras are in place, then the big step has already been taken.

What’s interesting:

  • It’s interesting to ponder whether there are any applications in an office environment. One useful application is to ensure call center workers are not using their phones to take pictures of screens with sensitive information. Are there other applications in the office we’ve yet to consider?

What is really important:

  • The ability of AI to constantly keep watch over the workplace is a powerful new capability. We should keep in mind that this unprecedented capability exists when addressing issues of safety, security, and performance.
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