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Chicago Developing 'Suspicious Behavior' Monitoring System 294

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-just-going-to-think-really-evil-thoughts-then dept.
narramissic writes "Over the past few years, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has been blanketing the city with a network of thousands of video cameras in an effort to remotely keep track of emergencies in real time. Now, with the help of IBM, the network is getting some smarts. IBM software will analyze the video and ultimately 'recognize suspicious behavior,' says OEMC spokesman Kevin Smith. 'The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior,' said Smith. 'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'"
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Chicago Developing 'Suspicious Behavior' Monitoring System

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  • Obviously, this software will do squat. And obviously they'll be flooded with false positives. Assuming they still try to investigate all of these leads, they would need to increase the size of their work force - i.e. more jobs. Which is good. But does that offset all the taxpayer money going into this ultimately useless program?
    • Re:Good or bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spleen_blender (949762) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:44PM (#20770357)
      You have to field test your research somewhere, this one just happens to have a big juicy contract with it probably.
    • Forget suspicious behavior, how about if it can identify a crime in progress? That would be pretty great by itself. I think if you can identify crimes automatically, then maybe you can talk about identifying pre-crime behavior.
      • by Xzzy (111297)
        Tom Cruise has shown us you need psychics for that, and it will backfire on you eventually anyways.

        If someone hasn't been witnessed actually committing a crime, they shouldn't be rounded up for it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vidarh (309115)
          There's a huge difference between arresting and punishing someone for a crime that hasn't happened yet, and sending a police officer around to ask someone what they are doing, or to observe and be ready to intervene if someone does something illegal.

          If the system for example could recognize signs of someone being followed, it might be enough to dispatch a police car to drive past or ask the person being followed if they want assistance to help avoid a lot of serious crimes from being committed.

          Now, ther

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PinkPanther (42194)

            If the system for example could recognize signs of someone being followed, it might be enough to dispatch a police car to drive past

            The one thing I constantly keep hearing about is all those police officers who show up to work day after day with nothing to actually do. This system will help those cops fill up the massive gaps in their daily schedules...

          • Erm.... if Chicago is like any big city, there are millions of people who are followed by millions of other people at all times of the day. It's called Pedestrians Walking On The Sidewalk. Even at three in the morning, there is a strong likelihood that people will walk behind other people without ill intent.

            Let me repeat myself from another post: there is no way to make this system useful. It'll either be trivialized (hey - gunshots! get there, quickly!) or it'll be so swamped with false positives that no o
          • by BoberFett (127537)
            Unfortunately the pigs will simply replace judgment and discretion with the phrase "I was just following the orders." If the computer spits out a report that some guy was following a young girl, he's doomed. Hell, a man can barely get a fair trial as it is right now when he's been accused of a sex crime. What happens when there's additional "evidence" in the form of a computer generated Suspicious Activity report?
            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              Now all we need...is some wearable mechanism, that can auto-sense and disable the cameras around you (laser?) as you walk through town. We all know the importance of not being seen [wikipedia.org] .
          • Of what price liberty? Of what price scrutiny? Of what price freedom of association? Of what price probable cause? This is an abomination, just as it is in the UK and elsewhere.

            This is Chicago.... Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's book on liberty focused on its brutality, discrimination, its perjury. Now it wants to watch us all, the good, the bad, the ugly, as we try and live life or visit.

            Those what would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither-- Franklin
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Now, there's still room for abuse (train the system to recognize likely politically unpopular groups and send police to intimidate, for example), but that doesn't automatically mean that there can't be ways of making this system useful without making it intrusive.
            In Chicago? With the Chicago police? Welcome to Earth, Stranger.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Hmm. Wouldn't it be cool if the headline was actually "Chicago Developing 'Superstitious Behavior' Monitoring System"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Seumas (6865)
        Why? The role of the police department is not to prevent or stop crimes that are in progress. If someone breaks into your house and you don't have a weapon, you are likely fucked. Unless you can convince the burgler to sit nicely in a chair until the police come before he does anything to you. The role of the police department is to clean up and investigate AFTER a crime has been committed.

        While these cameras might give you a little faster response, they're still not much more useful than providing post-inc
    • Re:Good or bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:47PM (#20770407) Homepage
      'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'

      It will also be impressively Orwellian and unnecessary. I'm waiting for those famous Midwestern militias to get determined and start systematically tracking and disabling these cameras so that the rest of us can continue to go about our business w/o the prying eyes of the government.

      I'm tired of traffic cameras, red light cameras, and the government's position that you are in the public and thus not anonymous in your actions. That rhetoric worked when you were manning more human police officers to do the work, not when you decided to become lazy and act like the public are your DVR favorites for watching and scanning at a later time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm waiting for those famous Midwestern militias to get determined and start systematically tracking and disabling these cameras so that the rest of us can continue to go about our business w/o the prying eyes of the government.

        As long as you and everyone else keep waiting, it will never happen. Change occurs when people get fed up and do something about it themselves rather than waiting on someone else to solve the problem for them. If we hadn't been so gung-ho as a nation on giving other people the re

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zymurgyboy (532799)

          As long as you and everyone else keep waiting, it will never happen. Change occurs when people get fed up and do something about it themselves rather than waiting on someone else to solve the problem for them.

          Hammer meets nails. Very good.

          An equivalent amount of funding put into community policing programs or Neighborhood Watches would likely be far more effective than a camera program could ever be. When citizens start paying attention and giving a shit about what happens in their neighborhoods, thin

    • by ivanmarsh (634711) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:57PM (#20770607)
      Cars parked where they aren't supposed to be... cars that drive around the same building several times... obviously none of these people have ever been to Chicago.

      In Chicago driving around a building several times is what you do before you decied to park somewhere you aren't supposed to be parked.

      Sounds like putting cameras in the forest looking for trees.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Amouth (879122)

        Sounds like putting cameras in the forest looking for trees.
        if you where talking about an AD domain.. that might be a good thing.. cause nothing else watchs them...

    • But the real question for Mr. Kevin Smith is, will the cameras catch Jay and Silent Bob in their next drug deal?
    • Moreover, the system may in fact increase the numbers of false positives on the very grounds of its existence. People may act suspiciously because they are worried that they may be considered suspicious. It's the feeling you get when you walk out of a store without buying something. (At least I get it). I feel like people will think I stole something, so I automatically become overly self-conscious of my behaviour even though I did nothing wrong or planned to do anyting wrong...
  • I for one.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spritzer (950539) * on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:44PM (#20770339) Journal
    ...welcome our Minority Reporting overlords.
    • by vmxeo (173325)

      ... then please act like it! We're tired of watching you glance suspiciously at our surveillance cameras.

      Sincerely,

      the MRO

  • by MonGuSE (798397) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:44PM (#20770365)
    Robot Officer: Dave, you are under arrest.
    Dave: What for?
    Robot Officer: Hal says you are acting suspicious.
    Dave: Picking my nose is acting suspicious?
    Robot Officer: Yes you might be about to litter.

    This is not a good idea now the cops can just say the computer said you were suspicious so we have reason to detain and search you and your car.
  • Should get really interesting when they integrate this system with the latest US Army battlebots!
  • Obviously ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:46PM (#20770381) Homepage Journal

    Chicagoans should go out of their way to act "suspicious" in front of these cameras if they want to prevent the onset of a nanny state. Wear thick coats during the summer months, keep their hands in their pockets, look back and forth. Hell, maybe sticking their tongues out at the cameras would constitute suspicious ...

    Besides, where they ought to be placing these cameras is in the halls of Chicago's city government.

    • That might not work. Acting crazy might make one LESS suspicious, since they'd think you were just one of the local crazies who are everywhere, instead of a real criminal or terrorist.
    • Re:Obviously ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by putzin (99318) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @01:05PM (#20770707) Homepage
      This could be entertaining on Clark south of Addison on Friday and Saturday nights, especially around the Cubs clinching a playoff spot (it could happen), any Bears win, and Halloween. I guess it depends on what is suspicious.

      Also, didn't London, the worlds first true nanny city just figure out that crime is the same or worse where the cameras are the densest?
      • Also, didn't London, the worlds first true nanny city just figure out that crime is the same or worse where the cameras are the densest?

        Effectiveness is not a requirement for passing more laws. All you need is to be able to pitch them in a way that makes them sound like a good idea.

        The 1994 Crime Bill passed in the US is a good example. Some firearms related restrictions were implemented, they had no impact on crime, then they were allowed to expire, and that had no impact on crime. This does not prevent similar restrictions from being pitched as effective ways to combat crime on a local or state level.

    • Now you've done it! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mille Mots (865955)
      You are aware, of course, that few things are as suspicious as pointing out that the Emperor(s) strutting around naked, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moeinvt (851793)
      'Chicagoans should go out of their way to act "suspicious"'

      That will work until big brother makes it a crime to "act suspicious" under the premise that it's deliberate interference with law enforcement activities, and therefore a threat public safety.
    • by glindsey (73730)

      Wear thick coats during the summer months
      Hell, this is Chicago; with our weather, sometimes that's perfectly normal.
    • by russ1337 (938915)

      Chicagoans should go out of their way to act "suspicious" in front of these cameras if they want to prevent the onset of a nanny state.
      These guys do exactly that in New York. They're called the "New York Surveillance Camera Players" and they've had their share of encounters with law enforcement doing what they do.... carrying out skits and plays in front of the cameras.
    • by Applekid (993327)

      Chicagoans should go out of their way to act "suspicious"
      My waxed moustache, beady eyes, large top hat, sneering voice and unfortunate hunchback are all available if you want to fly me in to Chicago. You know, after I steal the orphanage money provided some meddling kids don't try to stop me.
  • I'm never watching any of his movies again!!!

    Well, after this weekend...
  • by StealthyRoid (1019620) * on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:47PM (#20770391) Homepage
    Cool, so, we're not even pretending anymore that the use of cameras are anything less than the complete and total expansion of the panopticon, are we? I mean, of course, you'll still have the people who say "well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, why are you worried", but for the most part, we're pretty up front about the fact that we're going to be using cameras to keep our citizenry under the thumb. Who defines what constitutes "suspicious behavior", local cops, politicians, computer techs? There will be essentially zero guidelines for the implementation of this technology, so what's to stop the local PD, or the DEA from auto-flagging someone who looks like they're raising a pipe to their mouths, or, even better, engaging in nefarious acts like leaving the house late at night? And not just that, but how many citizens will have their rights violated because of a false positive from the "suspicious behavior" flag? Will the flag be enough to get a warrant to search someone's car or home?

    End of the fucking universe, right here.
    • While your statements appear to be a little over the top, I have to say I agree.

      With rancorous students being tased for being rancorous students and professors being arrested for art projects and US citizens being detained without cause or due process, its really just yet another step down the road to a police state. The really sad thing is that people are only just now noticing that we've gone down the road quite a long way. It's going to take a long time and a lot of really ugly effort to get out of this.
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      Two words: racial profiling.

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      From TFA:

      The software could recognize a package that had been left in a public park or a car parked where no car is supposed to be, Smith said.

      Better hope you don't break down in a no parking zone... Instead of AAA, you'll have the DHS stopping by to help you!

    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @02:36PM (#20771933)
      I love they gave you +5 Overacting, but no, this is not "the goddamned end of the universe".

      No, no one will be arrested because a flag. Don't you realize what this system is supposed to do. Reduce the amount of material that has to go through human eyes. If IBM software can flag suspicious activity, then police officers will monitor mostly the flagged videos, and work only a FRACTION of those flagged videos (if a human eye decides activity is suspicious.. then it may really be).

      The problem isn't the fact they try to automate it. There are two other distinctive issues:

      1. The fact they installed cameras everywhere. This is an actual problem, but, not the "end of the universe". You're already under control in public places, there are people EVERYWHERE around you, and they SEE you. If there were no cameras, would you feel ok to pull your pants down in the middle of the street? No. So, beside the people around you, few guys monitoring the cameras will also see you. Not that big of a deal.

      2. Second problem is they put too much hope on software detecting suhspicious behaviour. That's a joke. We're AT LEAST, and I say AT LEAST, super-duper-optimistic, 20 years away from being able to create a system smart enough to detect suspicious with good accuracy. This means IBM's system will have big number of false positives, and big number of false negatives. In the former case, it means it won't be as effective in reducing the number of material a human eye has to go through. That's not a big problem but makes throwing so much money into a poor system worth question. In the latter case though, it means monitoring guys trusting the system too much and not watching the NON FLAGGED videos, and missing on ACTUAL suspicious activity which doesn't look suspicious to a computer system.
  • Conformity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:47PM (#20770397)

    'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public conformity.'
    Fixed it.
  • If this were being installed in Boston, it will then become a crime to behave in a suspicious manner. See 2007 Boston Mooninite scare [wikipedia.org].

    Conform! Conform! Conform!
  • False Positives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grassy_knoll (412409) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:48PM (#20770421) Homepage
    From TFA:

    The trick will be to make the analytics software work in a useful way. "The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior," said Smith. "Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety."


    I'd wager the false positve rate is going to be very high, and it will be interesting to see if they can bring that down. Something like an alert for a stolen car ( or a car related to an amber alert ) could generate a very high false positive rate if the car is a common make/model.

    On the other hand, if it teaches criminals to act in less "suspicious" ways, then the system will be of no value or perhaps even detremental ( showing no "suspicious" behavior when criminal activity is present, leading to a false sense of security ).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      They don't understand that it's not behavior that's suspicious, it's a particular person who is suspicious that another person's behavior is aimed at achieving some particular goal. For example, I may be suspicious that my dog is attempting to get to the fresh meat, or suspicious that the driver in front of me is going to change lanes without a turn signal.

      On the other hand, looking at the definition of the word I guess it sums up nicely why such an automation is ill:

      1. The act of suspecting something, espe
  • IBM again ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by witte (681163)
    <sarcasm> What's next ? Hollerith numbers tattooed on wrists ? </sarcasm>
  • London (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boogaroo (604901) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:51PM (#20770473) Homepage
    Wasn't there an article on how the massive London camera network doesn't actually do any good? And that one has real people monitoring it. Who really thinks a computer will be able to do a better job at something so nebulous as "suspicious behavior?"

    Oh, that's right, nobody. However, that doesn't stop the company pushing this from trying to make a buck. It's sorta like the DRM companies. The DRM companies all know it doesn't work, but companies keep falling for the salesmen's lies.
    • Re:London .. yes (Score:2, Informative)

      by jessiej (1019654)
      Here's the discussion [slashdot.org] about that article. Plenty of opinions on both sides of the issue there.
    • Wasn't there an article on how the massive London camera network doesn't actually do any good? And that one has real people monitoring it. Who really thinks a computer will be able to do a better job at something so nebulous as "suspicious behavior?"

      Actually, if you accept the premise, then computers probably are better than people.

      It's the same reason passengers are regularly able to accidentally or even purposely 'smuggle' all kinds of contraband past the luggage screeners at the airport. When 99.999% of the time there is nothing to get alarmed about, the people doing the monitoring get so bored of their jobs that they stop paying attention. This is not an indictment of the TSA's people (there are plenty of other reasons to flame them) it's just h

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149)
      The cameras were shown to have zero impact on deterrence of crime. However, that's different than saying they might help solve crime, or that different use of the cameras would act as a deterrent. Jury is still out, but with the expense of having them it's hard to say if it's worthwhile.

      They may help solve a few really serious or high profile crimes though, which would perhaps lead to people deciding they are worth having.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <{moc.oohay} {ta} {notrab_gerg}> on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:51PM (#20770493) Homepage Journal

    'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'

    How many times have I heard this on an AI related project? "Once this is done..." is a fantasy, especially when they already describe it as a "trick" and a "challenge." From TFA:

    The trick will be to make the analytics software work in a useful way. "The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior," said Smith.

    Challenge, indeed. I'll believe it when I see it.

    Scratch that. I'll believe it when the system sees it.
  • I hope he makes a movie about it. Clerks III: Suspicious Behavior.
  • ... I won't get mugged? WTF are the police downtown after dark?
  • That's rich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogie (31020) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:53PM (#20770533) Journal
    "'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'""

    Impressive if your main hope in life is to live in some sort of Orwellian nightmare. Hey, here's a thought. If you put cameras in every house you can cut down on child abuse! You don't object to that do you? What are you some sort of kid toucher? Won't somebody please think of the children!

    So much for Chicago being the lovely city I wanted to visit again.
  • If this works well against regular people, why can't we turn this around? I'd love to see a system designed to keep an eye on the activities of government employees and executives and elected officials. It would watch for suspicious activity such as bribe taking, shady dealings, conflicts of interest and spending too much time in airport restroom stalls.

    Seriously, if they can design systems to watch the people, why can't there be a system designed to watch the government?
  • is this serious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:55PM (#20770555)
    We can't even make a translator that works and you're going to look for "suspicious" people? Is that some kind of sick joke? What, exactly, constitutes "suspicious" and wouldn't that be almost impossible to code in any meaningful way? Hell, we humans can't even agree on what "suspicion" looks like and now they want to teach a computer. Good luck with that.

    I expect that "suspicion" is a fairly complex process in the human brain (it relies on a lot of different senses) so I am having difficulty understanding how anyone in their right mind would undertake such an effort.

  • by lawpoop (604919)
    At best, this is just a cash cow for the developer, who won't be able to come up with anything useful, and a total waste of taxpayer money.

    At worst, this will be a kind of voodoo evidence, like a polygraph test, that can be used against anybody. And of course, like a polygraph test, the results of the 'suspicion machine' can only be interpreted by an expert. It will give a false 'aura of objectivity' to scapegoating and persecution.
  • One way to combat something like this is to prove it's a big waste of money. If it is ever implemented there needs to be a coordinated effort to put thousands of people around the city doing "suspicious" but legal behavior. There will be so many reports that the authorities will soon realize there's no feasible way of keeping the system running.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @12:57PM (#20770601)
    ... and unless we've made astounding progress in the last 5 years (as in, someone created a strong AI), IBM is full of crap. Completely, utterly full of guano.

    Here's how the system will work.
    head covered: check
    metal flash: check
    loud sound: check
    Result: sound warning

    There's absolutely no way in hell that the system is going to be able to do a real-time analysis that goes beyond basic image and sound recognition that is coupled with a set of expert rules. Why? Because no will have the time to properly train the system. And even if someone would be insane enough to do that, it'll still fail, because context is utterly missing.

    Example: someone runs out of a store in a hurry. Someone comes after him. Should the police be involved? Did someone steal something from the store, or did two people find out one of their friends is in trouble? Or are they late to a movie?

    This system is doomed to complete failure and is nothing but a boondoggle for IBM. Kudos to the IBM salespeople who sold Chicago on this system. They're able to sell fridges to eskimos, I'm sure.

    The only thing that really worries: the politicians who drank the kool-aid. For those of you who live in Chicago: vote them out, or move. This is a sign of serious trouble on the horizon.
  • Hard to imagine a more suspicious activity than geocaching in a city...
  • This is a typically ignorant response to a complex problem. Those who do not understand technology (both strengths and limitations) continually try to apply it in situations where nothing will be accomplished.

    The human issues that drive crime will not be solved by surveillance even if every square foot of Chicago is monitored. In this scenario, only the innocent will suffer.
  • I suddenly have the urge to hire a bunch of poor starving theater majors to act suspiciously for the cameras. I wonder how it will take for such street performances to be outlawed, and then how long will it take to get those 'Stop Confusing the Cameras' laws overturned.

  • for the first dispatch to investigate the "suspicious behavior" of two kids chasing each other down the street.

    Seriously...what's that quote again? "Technologists always question whether they CAN do something, but never whether they SHOULD"...
  • 'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'

    Cause it's worked SO well in Britain. They've installed millions of cameras, and the crime rate has gone up.
  • what is suspicious behavior?
    • Somebody taking a leak in an alley (sure it's nasty, and a felony, but is it worth it?)
    • Two members of the same sex kissing?
    • Somebody wearing a T-shirt saying that "Bush is an (insert favourite invective here)"
    • A gang wearing medieval knight outfit including swords. (can be a weapons felony)
    • ...
    Just take your pick and figure...

    So much for probable cause...

  • You know, like, if somebody encrypts any of their Internet traffic because they don't like the idea of Comcast snooping inside my packets to see what they're doing... well, obviously they're acting suspicious and must have something to hide.

    Why else would they believe in outmoded concepts like "privacy"?
  • are they really going to be using this to look for terrorists? No, because terrorists don't act suspiciously. If they did, they probably would have been noticed before they stole four jets and crashed them. Ever spent time in a major city? Walk around, one of of every two people will look suspicious. Will this system be used against homeless people? They're some of the sketchiest people walking around, but I wouldn't call them a threat to national security. Same thing with skateboarding teenagers. How about
  • And what is the city government of Chicago really afraid of?
  • Can have a happy-happy, joy-joy day.
  • We've seen the effectiveness of 10,000 cameras [slashdot.org] in crime prevention. I think that with a proper learning algorithm, cameras could surpass the ineptitude of current officers.

    Of course, we'd have to know what exactly defines "suspicious behavior". On the other hand, I'm completely against false positives and people arrested without motive. An old law (now banned) in my country stated that if a cop detected "suspicious behavior", he could arrest the "suspect". In turn, this resulted in many abuses and trivial a
    • It's interesting how opinions differ based on the people's backgrounds. The american background (at least in slashdot) is guys with anti-govt paranoia, sick tired of being surveilled because, yes, it's Big Brother in there.

      However, I live in a country where crime is rampant, the majority of police officers are corrupted, and criminals go out of jail with blatant impunity.

      When I heard about security cameras and identifying suspicious behavior, my first thought was "hey, this could do a lot for crime preventi
  • If the cameras pick up a lot of people breaking a particular law, but the cops do not enforce that law (they only arrest or ticket a small percentage of the people,) then couldn't you get those convictions overturned on the grounds of selective enforcement?

    And imagine the civil lawsuits against the city when the cameras show a crime, but the police fail to respond for any reason or if they're late in arriving.

    And then there's the lawsuits about what constitutes a crime. Do the cameras ignore jaywalki

  • by eepok (545733) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @01:24PM (#20770971) Homepage
    This is just silly. I understand that people would prefer to PREVENT crime instead of REACTING to crime, but you can't PREDICT crime as an alternative. Prevention and prediction are two very different things.

    To prevent crime, educate the populace so as help to instill acceptable ethics and a sense of shame. Help them to acquire the resources they actually need and stop telling them they're less of a person if they don't have the "best" of everything. Teach people about people and reinforce those teachings throughout life.

    To predict crime, go see a psychic because they are just as likely to choose an imminent criminal due to "suspicious" activity. You'd spend less money this way. You'll need it for the counter-suits.

    Truth of the matter is that the nation isn't a fan of raising their children. Nor do they look kindly on higher taxes to reduce classroom size so that teachers can be mentors as well as lectures. And since crime prediction is a fantasy, the best we can do is crime reaction.
  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jaqenn (996058) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @01:25PM (#20770983)

    IBM software will analyze the video and ultimately recognize suspicious behavior. ... The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior,' said Smith. 'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'"
    I'm going to make a ship that goes to the moon. The challenge will be in making a ship that can go to the moon. Once this is done this will be a very impressive ship in terms of transportation.
  • targetted on certain neighborhoods, crime actually increased.

    Beware of unintended consequences.

  • this is wrong, because two identical videos can be produced by two different behaviours.

    in a video, you can have two identical videos of a person taking a piece of candy from a counter.

    they have a different behaviour -- and yet, one paid for it, and the other is stealing.

  • The 12th picture fits so terribly on this one that it almost hurts.
  • First note the language:

    "Ultimately I think what this software might be able to do is simply recognize suspicious behavior and alert our operations people and, at times, our crime detections specialists as to what it sees."

    And:

    The software could recognize a package that had been left in a public park or a car parked where no car is supposed to be, Smith said.

    So at present it probably does nothing at all. But with questions being raised in other places about the usefulness of CCTV [slashdot.org]. They have to do something

  • Merely being "suspicious" is not illegal. Mere suspicion is not enough for probable cause. This is INSANE!
    • by ErikZ (55491) *
      Eh? Police officers do this all the time. They keep an eye on people who are acting suspiciously.

      Now we're teaching machines this human trait.
  • "its just for emergencies".. now its for monitoring.. soon for active deterrent..

    Typical. Tell the public its for 'good' things to get them to buy off on it, and by the time the true intentions are known its too late to turn back.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @02:06PM (#20771523)

    Let's apply a little Bayesian reasoning, shall we?

    Given that system X identifies your behavior as suspicious, what is the probability that you are a terrorist? This probability is written P(T|S). This is what we want to find.

    Bayes' Rule: P(T|S) = P(S|T)*P(T)/P(S).

    P(S|T) is the probability that the system will identify you as suspicious, given that you are a terrorist. You can call this the system's "accuracy." Let's be generous and say the accuracy is 99.99% = 0.9999.

    P(T) is the probability that you are a terrorist. Let's say that this probability is one in a million: 0.000001.

    P(S) is the probability that the system thinks you are suspicious. There are two sources of suspicion: true positives, and false positives. The true positives are given by P(S|T)*P(T). The false positives are given by P(S|~T)*P(~T).

    Let's again, be generous, and say that the false positive rate P(S|~T) is only 0.1%, or 0.001.

    P(~T) is just 1-P(T) = 0.999999.

    So, let's substitute everything in:

    P(T|S) = P(S|T)*P(T) / (P(S|T)*P(T)+P(S|~T)*P(~T)) = 0.9999*0.000001 / (0.9999*0.000001+0.001*0.999999)

    What's that equal, everybody? 0.0009989 which is about 0.001, in other words 0.1%

    What does it mean? Even with a system that has a true positive rate of 99.99% and a false positive rate of only 0.1%, the probability of a "suspicious person" actually being a terrorist is only 0.1%.

    In other words, these systems are inherently useless in identifying terrorists. This is because terrorists are inherently RARE in the population. The massive accuracy of the test cannot make up for this fact.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @02:13PM (#20771605) Homepage

    It looks like this person is trying to sell crack. Cancel or allow?

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @02:53PM (#20772177)
    So, what about the mentally ill and disabled people? Will they be harrassed till they leave town?
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @02:56PM (#20772233)
    Considering Chicago's political history, they'd better not put up any cameras near city hall.

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