Monday, February 15, 2010

Security and Surveillance Systems in India

Yet another blast in Pune, India. Video footage taken by surveillance systems must have been sent to the security establishments for post mortem. The details will be published soon with second by second analysis of last few minutes before the blast. It worked but nobody was there to take action!
I have seen security guards sitting at sensitive locations with odd shaped racquets and inspecting ladies handbags or using it as paperweight of the morning newspaper or sitting idle and bored - looking at tourists. I wonder what is the purpose of special entrance systems in Railway stations, shopping malls and elsewhere which generate different kind of noises unless you bypass the improvised door during rush hour. No one will bother you about your actions. Do they know how to interpret the sound? This place is under electronic surveillance - boldly written with a rotating camera overhead. I once asked the proprietors how effective the systems were. To my amazement I was told those were statutory requirements and to let people know - You are being watched. The system records the video and on rare occasions during petty shoplifting or security drills they watch the recorded video.
Have you ever heard, some terrorists were caught or a major accident was averted due to such video surveillance systems and other related equipments? The usual reply is - well, it works as deterrent and without those systems in place there would have been more such activities!
I as a technologist working in computer vision for many years carried out a study and thought of developing a product especially for India and neighboring countries. I was told by many industry experts that why to reinvent the wheel when several off the self products from countries with expertise in security systems are available! Alas! Security is not only about technology - it requires region specific knowledge of human behavior and natural ecosystem. And why indigenous systems should not be acceptable in India when millions of software professionals and technologists are employed by major software companies in India and abroad?
These systems are full proof in ideal conditions. Then why such systems fail? For example, movement activated alert: Lizards and cockroaches will activate the alarm - so put off this alarm or ignore. Sound/Vibration activated alert: Full blast music in Cars and honking horns at odd hours and odd places: Ignore. CCTV: Boring to watch for long hours or blind the camera with bright light for few seconds.
All these systems can be fooled in India and nobody cares as long as it is used by X, Y and Z and why not me too?

No comments:

Post a Comment