'Smart' CCTV cameras to detect violence 'before it happens'

‘Smart’ cameras that can automatically alert the police when fights break out in the streets are being developed by British researchers in a bid to clamp down on violence.

Researchers from Cardiff University teamed up with specialists from Airbus Group to create a system that will spot trouble brewing by using imaging technology. Scientists said that it will alert CCTV operators in real time when fights are detected on city centre cameras.

"Developing ‘smart’ camera technology that can pinpoint violence is a really cost effective way of helping police to do their jobs. Officers can’t monitor hundreds of city centre CCTV cameras all the time,” said Professor Simon Moore, from Cardiff University’s Violence and Society Research Group.

Although ‘smart’ CCTV can already identify cars and count people, the researchers will take it one step further by analysing night-time crowds and sending automatic alerts to prevent serious injuries from happening, thereby reducing costs to health services.

"By using imaging technology, officers will be alerted to violence ‘hotspots’ in real time, helping to further reduce violence. It’s a great way of using technology to make the streets safer for all of us," Moore said.

Figures from the Home Office show that an average violence incident can add up to £33,000 in health and criminal justice fees, costing the taxpayer millions of pounds each year.

"As austerity continues in policing it is important that we work together with academia to develop an evidence base of knowledge to ensure officers and resources are deployed as effectively as possible,” saidAdrian Lee of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The project is the brainchild of Kaelon Lloyd, a PhD student at Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics.

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