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Future Tech: 

CCTV cameras to predict violence before it happens?

"KEEP MOVING CITIZEN. Put the beer bottle down."

“KEEP MOVING CITIZEN. Put the beer bottle down.”

CCTV cameras are remarkably effective at keeping people in check. You can buy dummy CCTV camera boxes for your house that dissuade criminals, and even Nineteen Eighty-Four’s dystopic police state didn’t have everyone being watched all the time, but proved pretty effective at keeping the population miserably compliant.

Despite a large number of CCTV cameras around though, there are still fights on the streets, and not enough police officers to monitor every camera all the time, so what’s the answer?

Well, researchers at Cardiff University are working on a solution: a CCTV camera that is able to spot the early stages of street violence, so that police officers can be dispatched before the trouble gets out of hand, stopping crime before it happens.

It’s a $1.5 million project, which may sound like a lot until you realize that the UK’s government ends up paying around $50,000 for every violent incident that escalates, in terms of health, criminal justice, lost working hours and victim support, so in theory the initiative should pay for itself after a few thwarted brouhahas.

Computer scientists and what Tech World describes as ‘violence experts’ (sounds like you wouldn’t want to get on their wrong side, to us) will be working on developing CCTV cameras that analyze night time crowds, providing ‘real time’ alerts for patrolling police officers.

But how does it work? “It identifies how chaotic the movement is, as well as the magnitude of action and an element of direction,” explains Kaelon Lloyd, a PhD student from Cardiff on whose work the technology is based. “When these factors are detected the CCTV screen displays the word ‘Violent’ and the whole screen becomes tinted red, although a range of other outputs to alert people to the situation are possible.”

Remember pre-crime from Minority Report? Yeah, like that. Only with less arrests, and more mundane boozy crimes, currently isolated to a Welsh University. For now.

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