Published: 15 April 2015

In my last article we were discussing the analysis of data recovered in the homes of individuals. Now I want to talk about collecting data on the streets. Today our Police are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are asked to tackle more crime, increased terrorist threats and all with a smaller budget.

Imagine a fleet of drones which have pre-programmed orbits of the streets of London. They navigate around taking photos of people’s faces storing the location of that image at that location at that time. If a crime is reported in that location the anonymous facial data can be released to the media to locate the individuals as a witness or perpetrator.

The time of the orbit is changed so criminals cannot predict when the drone will be over head. It has a built in microphone which detects shouts and screams and when it happens gives a live feed to a CCTV operator to observe. The drone can be manually controlled if needed by the CCTV operator to investigate. The drone also uses the microphone array to detect gun shots and if it occurs automatically gives the direction and distance to the target.

Sound farfetched? Everything I’ve just described already exists to some degree. The Parrot drone (and others) can be preprogramed to follow a route and has high resolution images. In a recent Gadget show comparison it was used to give flybys taking pictures of moto cross riders. It is usually controlled via a normal hand held control but can also follow a GPS path. The microphone that detects gun shots already exists and is in use in Iraq and Afghanistan to find snipers.

The detection of a human face in a static image also exists, not only that it can figure out if the person is happy, sad etc. If you have a decent image of a person using the system I described above its pretty simple to compare the images together and determine if they are the same person.

Now don’t get me wrong there is a massive amount to overcome, but it’s not as far away as you might think.

The reason the images of people and their locations is important to Marketing is pretty obvious. You can detect habits in a personal or group behaviour. Then capitalise on that knowledge to taget people in particular behaviour groups. Think about what could be determine about you as a person from your daily behaviour. That’s why that data is very valuable.

You might say well the government if they implemented such a system wouldn’t sell that information on. To which I would say <cough>DVLA</cough>.

Shops already do similar tracking of people in their stores were about in the store they go and ultimately how many who cross the threshold buy something. It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing analysis of the town/shopping centre as a whole.




Richard Brisley

Lead Server-Side Developer


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