The questions we should be asking about Smart Cities and Surveillance

Today it was announced that the City of Perth is deploying a Briefcam smart video system that will employ AI to process video.

The key technology in this system is the ability to set a machine to do the task of tracking and identifying individuals, objects and events from thousands of hours of video footage faster than any team of human operators can.

While the argument about privacy swirls around social media, data security and compliance with regulations will be getting my attention.

The City of Perth or the contractors assigned to the job of managing the system are the ones that are responsible for the security of the information held. Briefcam software will only be processing the video held on City of Perth servers. Very clever Briefcam, leave the data on the customer servers so you are not responsible for data security.

This should tell you something. Briefcam does not want that job for a reason.

Keeping large amounts of potentially sensitive data is no easy task and even a business that is smart enough to develop AI systems is smart enough to know that they do not want to wrangle petabytes of surveillance video.

The City of Perth is the one responsible for keeping this data secured against outside attacks, system flaws and insider actions that could potentially leak personally identifiable information that has been gathered without explicit permission from individuals. Just the potential for things to go wrong a little is enough when you are considering locals but when you start factoring in European residents the whole European Union GDPR comes into play that could result in severe penalties if not handled correctly.

I can see the value to law enforcement and to making Perth safer and more efficient but holding and processing this much data presents a significant undertaking in Information Security.

I sincerely hope that those responsible are up to the task regardless of their intent.

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