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How AI Gives a Razor Edge to Security & Surveillance Systems

Author: Raghu Sesha Iyengar, Director of Engineering, Mobiliya

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2018-02-12
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The world has become an increasingly dangerous place. Global threats like terrorism, militancy, and cyber-crime are engulfing almost every nation, in frighteningly greater intensities. The rise in these crimes is compounded by the ease with which information can now be shared, exchanged and collaborated. The same technologies that have revolutionized human lives and businesses alike—such as social media and the cloud—are unfortunately also helping organizations and individuals perpetuate crime in a new arena: the digital world. Thus, it has become critical for governments and public safety authorities to upgrade to new technology quickly to be on top of their game at every given moment. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can help public safety workers and security agencies to track terror trails, accelerate law enforcement processes and protect safety workers from dangerous and often life-threatening tasks.


AI for Public Safety: A Multi-Pronged Force

AI involves the use of extremely intelligent computerized systems for automating or doing human tasks. If implemented precisely, AI can emerge as a potent force that can make governments and public safety authorities more powerful, more prepared and more efficient.

Social Media Vigilance: It is well-known how terrorist organizations have successfully used Facebook & Twitter to indoctrinate, recruit, and network terrorist cells in different countries. AI-driven apps and systems can be used to monitor and parse social media posts and messages for suspicious or inflammatory words and phrases, allowing law enforcement authorities to immediately track and prevent potential attacks and anti-nationalist propaganda.

Drones: Security agencies of almost all countries now rely on drone-based surveillance measures. This is because of the unparalleled advantages that drones offer: they are harder to detect, capture much more information than traditional surveillance methods, can soar to great heights or close in tightly, and have an innate ability to maneuver quickly. Even if drones get detected and destroyed by the enemy camp, the loss is significantly lower and more importantly does not involve the invaluable lives of safety workers or surveillance agents.

Bomb Detection: Until AI-driven robots were devised, bomb disposal personnel were the ones braving the risk of losing precious lives while tracking and diffusing potential explosive devices. However, robotic bomb detection and deactivation are a great way to save lives of the general public as well as those of the public safety workers.

Investigation: Often, law enforcement authorities lose precious time in tracking down suspects, gathering vital evidence or in finding clues. AI can help in different ways to speed up investigation and even improve accuracy. One of the best examples of AI-driven investigation came during the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Image-recognition software scanned through thousands of images and videos taken at the ground zero to find vital clues. In the Netherlands, researchers have created a chatbot named Brad that can detect deception in the interrogation of a suspect using a complex system of algorithms and speech analysis.


AI for Public Safety: The Challenge

While the benefits certainly outweigh the pitfalls, we must admit that there are indeed some major drawbacks. Two of the biggest allegations against AI include devising fool-proof systems and being too pervasive or that it becomes a breach of privacy. Ensuring the safety of AI apps and systems is critical and can mean the difference between supreme technology and a disaster. Since AI learns to modify its behavior based on its environment and surroundings, the risk of learning negative behavior is prevalent. Microsoft’s Tay chatbot fiasco shows the ugly side of automating conversation in a highly nuanced and layered domain like social media. Because of this and other recent AI failures, the technology in general has come under scrutiny from the general public. Hence, it is important that public safety workers and security agencies have a more in-depth understanding of how AI works, what it can do and more importantly, the things that it cannot do.

Despite all the confusion that surrounds AI, it is indeed the future. The speed at which AI can ingest, analyse and organize large volumes of data is unparalleled. It not only saves a great deal of time, but also ensures that security forces can achieve results faster and be better prepared for the next disaster. 


About the Author: Raghu Sesha Iyengar is Director of Engineering and heads the deep learning and AI divisions at Mobiliya. He holds a B.E. in Telecommunications from the Bangalore Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in communication theory and signal processing from Illinois Institute of Technology. He has vast experience in embedded systems programming and hardware/software interfaces; his current focus is on deploying applications of artificial intelligence and deep learning into various industries to enable growth using next-generation technologies.

About Mobiliya: Mobiliya is a global IT services and engineering company enabling digital transformation for the world’s leading organizations through disruptive technologies. The company specializes in next-gen technology consulting, system integration, solution development, deployment and security. For more information, please visit



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