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Towards more ethical video surveillance

Surveillance systems play an important role in providing safety and security by helping to tackle crime and terrorism. A recent EU-funded project worked to ensure this doesn't come at the expense of privacy.

Digital Economy
Society

The field of video analytics – the analysis of video streams captured by surveillance systems – has generated much discussion on norms, ethics, civil liberties and citizens' needs. The EU-funded VIDEOSENSE (Virtual centre of excellence for ethically-guided and privacy-respecting video analytics) project envisioned development of a video analysis solution that balances security with ethics and privacy. To this end, industry and research organisations in the fields of ethics, privacy and new data intelligence technologies came together to establish a trusted platform. The synergistic and integrated approach helped create a critical mass of leading experts and resources fostering important advances in the domain of ethically aware data and video analytics. All efforts considered capability gaps and security needs from a technical as well as ethical and regulatory perspective. Notable progress was made on increasing ethical integration and promoting ethical training with a view to delivering the vision of Privacy by Co-design. The project successfully launched the VideoSense Centre of Excellence to support socially responsible privacy preserving analytics solutions for security needs. It developed a standard framework for Ethical Compliance Audit Management and a framework to support various standardisation stakeholders, such as JPEG and MPEG communities. Activities included over 20 internships, industrial placements and research exchange visits supporting joint research undertakings. Examples include mini-projects focused on camera calibration, context-aware privacy protection and performance evaluation. New or extended evaluation methodologies for evaluating privacy filters have been developed, tested and deployed. VIDEOSENSE also developed and integrated algorithms, including person appearance modelling, multimedia privacy filters, and object recognition and classification based on behaviour patterns. A workshop was held to explore related projects and an event was organised on privacy filtering technology evaluation and standards. Talks, summer schools and conference contributions also boosted these efforts. VIDEOSENSE enhanced networking among national research groups and advanced discussion and progress on surveillance technologies. Its goal of providing ethically guided, useful and cost-effective security solutions as well as a Virtual Centre of Excellence has contributed to achieving a more private and ethical model of security.

Keywords

Surveillance systems, privacy, video analytics, ethics, VIDEOSENSE

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