Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

High-tech video surveillance to help combat urban crime

Automated video systems can now spot the behaviour of petty criminals and thieves even before a crime takes place. If exploited, this low-cost solution may help reduce crime rates and keep our cities safe.
High-tech video surveillance to help combat urban crime
Economic hardship and rapidly growing urban areas are all contributing to a higher crime rate in cities, from graffiti and vandalism to theft and muggings. While increased policing, rehabilitation and regentrification can lessen crime – as in the case of New York City in the United States – addressing the phenomenon could be complemented with more high-tech approaches.

The EU-funded project SMARTPREVENT (Smart video-surveillance system to detect and prevent local crimes in urban areas) proposed a solution based on sophisticated video surveillance systems. It worked towards new guidelines for employing video surveillance and developing tools to upgrade current crime detection systems.

More specifically, the project team outlined typical petty crimes in areas that employ automatic surveillance. It then developed a software that provides automatic detection of frequent criminal activities, as well as novel automated tools that can alert the concerned authorities. In parallel, the project team also worked on predicting crime and early detection as a way to pre-empt the phenomenon.

The newly proposed system offers better, more human-like detection of crime from video surveillance using the latest in video analysis. It can understand crime-related behaviour before an actual crime takes place and alert concerned parties, while automation facilitates operation and minimises human error for end users. In a smart bid to balance privacy with security, the system can be designed to store surveillance footage involving only those who commit a crime, particularly during the act, without storing material related to individuals who aren’t implicated.

Such an approach carries multiple benefits as it doesn’t require constant live monitoring, which is intensive in terms of human resources. Advances in technology and the decreased need for human intervention also mean that the solution is much more cost effective.

Marking its viability as a concept, the solution was validated thorough live case scenarios. The positive outcomes pave the way for commercialisation of the technology, hopefully leading to safer and better cities and communities.

Related information

Subjects

Safety

Keywords

Video surveillance, urban crime, cities, SMARTPREVENT, early detection
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