This article originally appeared on Forbes.
Today we say a picture is worth a thousand words; tomorrow we’ll say a video is worth a thousand pictures.
But I would never have said that when I joined Milestone in 2020. For me, video surveillance, as I called it back then, was something used by security guards or the police. As I learned more about my new job, I realized how video technology is changing the way we live here and now. My new colleagues had so many stories about cities with less pollution, saving people’s lives and bringing classrooms to life. One story that stayed with me was how video technology is helping compulsive gamblers.
In Australia, some casinos use video technology to help compulsive gamblers stay out of the casino. By law, all Australian casinos must provide an option for customers to "self-exclude" themselves if their gambling has become a problem. The self-exclusion process requires the customer to agree to a minimum ban period and have a photograph taken.
Video technology with facial recognition monitors the casino entrance and identifies any self-excluded customers who try to enter. When the system identifies a “self-excluded” customer, staff explain why they may not enter and escort them out of the venue. These casinos are using video to meet their responsibility to society to reduce gambling problems, as well as comply with the law.
I remember thinking that if it can do things like that, I can't wait to get to work with this technology.
Milestone CEO, Thomas Jensen
Because we use it extensively in the security industry, many people connect video surveillance solely with crime prevention. We continue to use video technology for that, but the technology has evolved well beyond cameras watching for wrong-doers. Today, it is the core technology in many applications that are beyond security and crime prevention. I think it is important to distinguish between the pure safety/security focus and all the additional advantages that society can gain from video technology.
This is the first article in a new series of articles about how video technology is reshaping our lives. Each article in the series will describe several different ways in which video technology is making society a better place for people to live. In addition, I will address the important areas of caution that are naturally associated with using video technology. To introduce the series, I have chosen a few stories that got my attention when I was learning about this amazing technology.
With an aging population in many countries, video technology is playing an active role in ensuring elderly citizens’ well-being. Falls are a major cause of concern in residential facilities where many senior citizens live. Video technology provides a non-invasive way to proactively support citizens and quickly alert staff if residents fall. Should someone fall because of a stroke or a heart attack, the minutes saved by enabling staff to react quickly can save lives.
Cities use video technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to learn traffic patterns and make real-time adjustments to traffic signals and signage to avoid queues of slow-moving vehicles. By combining video analysis of traffic patterns with data from air quality sensors, we can actively support minimizing pollution hot-spots that build up from slow-moving or stationary vehicles in rush hour.
Video technology is giving students an immersive experience that grabs, and holds, their attention. Being “there,” immersed in an experience increases students’ engagement in learning and helps them retain information. Video technology might also help students learn about concepts that are beyond their current experience and apprehensions, like going on a mission to Pluto.
These stories show some of the ways video technology is reshaping our lives. However, technology, in general, is under scrutiny from society today. The younger generation has come through a period with social media during which they shared everything. Now, as they become young adults, most probably think that wasn't a good idea. To embrace video as a life-enhancing technology, people must be in control. Video technology must serve humanity, not the other way round.
Future generations will demand transparency from technology companies. They must be certain that they can make conscious choices about how and in which ways they allow video technology to reshape their lives and how companies use and store their video data is stored and used. Here are my guidelines to get started:
- Apply video technology in ways that are relevant and help to solve the most pressing problems for humanity.
- Respect human rights and personal privacy.
- Instill trust in people by being accountable for how you use video technology and its consequences.
As we journey to a future in which video technology could be a part of everyday life, there will be many more promising possibilities. To realize the benefit of those possibilities, for current and future generations, we must implement this amazing technology the right way—responsibly.
Want to know more about the many and often surprising uses of video technology? Then check out our Safe Cities, Education and Public Transportation offerings.