Security cameras are all around us in public areas. Retail stores especially employ them to gather evidence of theft, or to help a store owner spot shoplifting in progress. But all too often the footage gathered can’t be acted upon until after the crime has been committed.
UK company Internet Eyes has come up with a novel solution. Take the security
feeds from a bunch of locations and put them online as live feeds. Then offer to pay anyone willing to sit and stare at the feeds in their web browser every time they spot suspicious activity.
Tony Morgan, managing director of Internet Eyes, explained the system:
The subscribers will have access to four screens at the same time and if they see anything suspicious, they can press the ‘alert’ button. This then sends an instant text and picture message to the shop assistant or manager – who then makes the decision about what action to take.
The subscription service will only cover UK security cameras initially, but anyone from Europe can sign up to be a crime-fighting subscriber. Morgan also say he’s had 13,000 people already contact the company interested in taking part.
One surprising aspect of Internet Eyes is participants are expected to pay to watch. The charge is minimal at around $20 per year, and acts as a way of verifying identity and that the user is over 18 years old. The rewards can be quite large though, with subscribers being rated by businesses using the service and the top subscriber receiving around $1,600 each month. There’s also a cash usage reward based on how many hours you monitor for.
There is some opposition to the scheme by privacy organizations worried the video footage may end up on sites like YouTube. Internet Eyes has implemented measures to stop some issues such as not giving viewers control over what they watch, only allowing a single stream for 20 minutes, and not allowing a local area to be viewed.
Read more at BBC News
I don’t have an issue with this from a privacy standpoint. The security camera footage is available to be viewed by someone anyway, if that’s people who have signed up to a service in order to help fight crime, then I say go for it.
The fact of the matter is, there are not enough people in authority to monitor activity where crime usually occurs. If someone has the time and inclination to help out why should they be blocked over privacy fears? I’m sure a store owner doesn’t mind if he gets to stop someone shoplifting rather than just handing the footage over to police after his stock has been taken. The fact you have to pay to view will be a big deterrent for timewasters too.
If successful in the UK I am sure Internet Eyes will expand its operations. It’s simply a case of getting permission to stream new feeds, and if it cuts crime then I doubt many local governments will try and block the service.