Telecom Ramblings has become large enough that I now get quite a few emails with press information, offering me material for posts in the event of writer’s block. One of them today came from what I thought of as an unlikely source: the National Science Foundation. It was about the surveillance system used to simulataneously monitor live feeds from large numbers of wireless cameras at Obama’s Inauguration. The system used by law enforcement was an adaptation of a technology called VSee that came out of an NSF grant. Overcoming bandwidth issues by compressing the feeds, they were able to monitor every single one of the feeds from one location.
This got me thinking about parallels in the commercial sector, specifically Envysion, which has been pushing managed video as a service (MVaaS) for a while now. Envysion’s service offers businesses amazing flexibility and power in managing and leveraging video surveillance feeds. I haven’t yet seen them address the law enforcement angle yet, but it seems like that focus is a choice rather than a limitation.
Regardless, it seems to me that when we think of the impact that interactive consumer video will have on the web, we often forget that the power of the internet may also revolutionize surveillance. A year or two ago, I read a science fiction book by David Brin (one of my favorite authors) called Kiln People. In it, the protagonist tracks a missing person from security camera to security camera for days, filling in almost every footstep the person made until they disappeared – and paying for the privilege to access those files as well. Is such technology really that far off? All that is missing is the user interface to tie it all together, and both VSee and Envysion seem to be working on that part already.
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