U.S. Cities Embrace Software To Automatically Detect “Suspicious” Behavior

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Ryan Gallagher
Slate.com
June 11, 2012

San Francisco is set to become the latest U.S. city to invest in software, created by Texas-based BRS Labs, that monitors and memorizes movements as they are captured on security cameras. The software, AISight, watches footage in real-time and—like a human would—learns to understand, detect, and report “suspicious or abnormal behavior.”

What exactly is defined as suspicious or abnormal behavior? That appears to depend on the environment in which AISight is operating. Its creators say it can be used to flag everything from “unusual loitering” to activity occurring in restricted areas. It could issue an alert after spotting a person leaving a bag unattended in a crowded airport, for instance, or raise alarm if a person is seen trying to cross a perimeter.

San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority believes AISight will give it the capacity to track more than 150 “objects and activities” continuously at 12 MTA train stations in San Francisco, according to public procurement documents. BRS Labs has also reportedly struck a deal to monitor the new World Trade Center site in New York. And late last year it was announced that Houston had purchased AISight to be deployed as part of a “citywide surveillance initiative” to “identify potential criminal or terroristic behavioral activity.” It has also been installed in Louisiana for port security, and authorities in El Paso want to use it to monitor water treatment plants near the Mexico border.

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