Can Video Analytics Stop Suicide?

By: John Honovich, Published on Jan 05, 2010

A metropolitan subway station is evaluating the use video analytics to identify and stop suicide attempts. It is a fascinating concept that faces significant risks.

The City of Calcutta India has a suicide problem - 15 attempts in 2009 resulting in 10 deaths inside of their Metro railway stations.

Bosch makes their pitch in the article, suggesting "The system can sound an alarm at a station’s CCTV control room the moment someone crosses the white line and goes to the edge of the platform."

This is a dangerous idea simply because people cross the white line for many reasons other than committing suicide. People may wander, may step close early, etc. Even if 15 times a year someone does try to kill themselves, there's going to 100 times that amount of false alerts.

Also, it will be interesting to see how they staff review and dispatching of guards. Time is critical demanding instant review of the alert and dispatch of a physical responder on site.

Finally, we wonder about the liability this exposes the video analytics manufacturer. While it will certainly depend on the country, the potential exists for a family to sue if the video analytic system fails to prevent a loved ones suicide.

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