Revolutionary Advance in Video Surveillance Coming to Chicago

The most revolutionary new advance in video surveillance will soon be monitoring Chicago's streets and other popular areas in the city.

Chicago already has surveillance cameras littered throughout the city, which monitor traffic. These new "smart" cameras will do a whole lot more than that. These new cameras will have the ability to read license plates, alert emergency services, and recognize suspicious activity. These cameras will even be able to recognize sounds, such as car accidents and gun shots and automatically notify the police.

The maker of the smart camera technology is IBM, and they are teaming up with the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) to implement these new devices. Chicago already has a multi-million dollar video surveillance system in place throughout the city. The OEMC plans on adding to this infrastructure already in place.

The city of Chicago is hoping that the new "smart" cameras will help increase security for the city against things like terrorism threats and violent crime. Chicago is hoping to host the Olympics for 2016, and the "smart" cameras will help to monitor any kind of possible terrorist threat. For instance, if someone should leave a backpack filled with explosives in a public place, the camera would recognize the unattended backpack and notify police.

Many of the existing surveillance cameras in Chicago will be integrated with IBM's new software, which will give them the capabilities of a "smart" camera. Many more cameras will be added to intersections and public places to complete the proposed infrastructure. It is unclear how much money this new infrastructure will end up costing the city of Chicago. It is known that the gunshot recognizing technology mentioned earlier costs $10,000 per unit, so needless to say, the new surveillance system will be expensive. The cost shouldn't be a issue for the city, but the complexity of the software could slow down the transition of converting old cameras to the new surveillance system.

IBM is collaborating with two other companies in this effort. One of the companies is Firetide, who is a leading provider of wireless solutions. The other company contributing in this effort is Genetec, who is recognized as a pioneer in IP video surveillance technology. Firetide will help integrate all of these new cameras on a wireless network, which will save the city of Chicago millions of dollars in cable costs. These three companies, along with the OEMC, will team up to accomplish this surveillance project which Chicago is calling Operation Virtual Shield.

Some people are already protesting the implementation of more surveillance cameras in the city, because they believe it violates their privacy. The city of Chicago claims that these cameras will help keep the citizens of Chicago safer, and will not violate any privacy statutes. (Yahoo News )

Joe Eitel
Guest Blogger