How Cell Phones Will Become CCTV Cameras

By John Honovich, Published Aug 01, 2008, 12:53pm EDT

In a move foreshadowing the future of video surveillance, the NYPD is launching a service for anyone to upload video of crimes captured on their cell phones.

In the article, the NYPD commissioner states, ""It's a fact of life," Kelly said. "Everybody has a camera in their telephones. When people can record an event taking place that helps us during an investigation, it's helpful."

This offers the potential to increase the number of 'eyes' or cameras on the street by 10x or more. Everyone who has a cellphone with a camera, now becomes a CCTV camera. Obviously, today, these cameras suffer limitations relative to traditional video surveillance. However, with cameras becoming more powerful and broadband wireless becoming more pervasive, it is not difficult to imagine that in the next 5 to 10 years, cellphone cameras becoming a powerful element in video surveillance solutions. This is especially so if police departments are encouraging and building tools to make such use easier.

While a whole host of technical challenges remain to optimize this solution, this practice has the ability to transform how video surveillance is conducted. Advances in video management and analytic techniques will be crucial to find patterns in submitted video and to link that video to other evidence including traditional video surveillance.

Whether or not this effort succeeds in the short run, this is a clear indication of how video surveillance will attempt to expand in the future.

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