Crowdsourcing - the process of outsourcing tasks to the general public using the Internet to distribute work - is a hot trend. However will it work and can it compete with traditional remote monitoring providers?
A new entrant is proposing this approach for remote video surveillance monitoring. The company, UK based InternetEyes, plans to have volunteers remotely monitor video surveillance cameras over the Internet. Key elements of the plan include:
- Monitors will be motivated by monthly cash prizes for the person who catches the most criminals (currently planned for $1,600 USD).
- When a monitor finds a suspicious activity, they flag it and that flag goes through their system to end users
- To minimize privacy concerns, monitors will not be told the locations of the areas they are monitoring (though, of course, it is still possible that some monitors will recognize the locations)
- To minimze inaccuracy or prejudiced alerts, monitors will be blocked if they submit more than 3 false alerts
- Customers will be charged 20 GBP/$32 USD. This is presumably per camera though the online documentation I found is not clear on this point.
While this is not the first attempt to do remote monitoring of video surveillance using the public, this is far superior in design to the previous effort. Over the last few years, a group in Texas called BlueServo has run the Texas Border Watch - a set of cameras on the US/Mexico borders streamed over the Internet. In July 2009, it came under significant criticism for high costs and limited results.
Nonetheless, this service will obviously compete with the growing market of proprietary remote video providers from both traditional alarm monitoring companies and new entrants dedicated to video/video analytics.
The more specific and key question is then: Can crowdsourcing remote video monitoring compete with proprietary monitoring?