A future of pre-crime is almost here *
By Richard Alleyne
Artificially Intelligent CCTV could prevent crimes before they happen
A new generation of Minority Report-style security cameras that can detect criminals before they strike could be in operation across Britain within five years, scientists claim.
The CCTV technology identifies suspicious individuals and behaviour and then acts to stamp out crimes before they happen.
When a crime looks like it is going to occur, the system will verbally warn the perpetrator and then if necessary alert the nearest police officer.
ISIS, short for Integrated Sensor Information System, is being developed by a team at Queen’s University Belfast at its Centre for Secure Information Technologies.
It is designed to work with the extensive network of CCTV cameras already installed on buses and trains as well as in stations, airports and on the street.
It centres on specially developed “computer vision technology” that analyses images picked up by CCTV and is able to profile individuals to see if they pose a risk and then to check for patterns of behaviour that may be suspicious or anti-social.
The computer constantly assesses the situation and if it becomes a major risk alerts a control room who can send out a verbal warning or alert officers nearby to stampout crimes before they occur.
Criteria that ISIS will look for are likely to include clothing such as hooded tops, sudden movements, odd behaviour such as moving seats and verbal aggression.
Metal detectors, motion detectors and even microphones could eventually be added to sharpen the system further.
By Ian Johnston
EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour”
The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for “abnormal behaviour”.
A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.
Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence”.
Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.
The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.
The European Commission is calling for a “common culture” of law enforcement to be developed across the EU and for a third of police officers – more than 50,000 in the UK alone – to be given training in European affairs within the next five years.
According to the Open Europe think tank, the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.
Stephen Booth, an Open Europe analyst who has helped compile a dossier on the European justice agenda, said these developments and projects such as Indect sounded “Orwellian” and raised serious questions about individual liberty.