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Surveillance Society Not Choking on Data Exhaust

Smart Cities Bristling with HD Cameras and Sensors Capture Huge Volumes of Data Exhaust, but Most of That Information is Thrown Away

As the Internet of Things advances, cities and transportation systems are becoming “smart” with sensors and HD cameras that capture massive amounts of information. Beyond their intended use, these smart systems also capture a layer of data exhaust that’s being largely discarded, but it’s only a matter of time until businesses find a way to monetize it according to Todd Matsler of Intel’s Intelligent Systems Group.

Todd Matsler Intel
“There’s a ton of data exhaust coming off those cameras and it’s just being thrown away,” says Todd Matsler of Intel’s Intelligent Systems Group.

“All that data could be valuable to the business world,” he said. “So how do you take that data… and actually go out and monetize it?”

Matsler and his team are working on security and surveillance projects in several different markets, including China, Malaysia and the United States, and he sees smart technology as a big opportunity.

“Major players have their eyes set on that (smart cities and smart transportation) and most have active projects going on in this growing space,” he said.

Recently, Matsler sat down to discuss the security and surveillance market, how cameras and sensors will be used as the Internet of Things matures and a smart city project in China.

Where does security and surveillance come into play with smart cities?

There’s a trend with smart cities of having cameras all around that feed data back into one centralized infrastructure that allows you to respond more proactively, or if it’s reactive, respond much quicker. Usually it starts with an emergency response aspect. How can we be more proactive and understanding?

In China they have cameras watching for a crowd of people starting to swell. Is there a demonstration that’s going to start? Do we need to get some people out there? Look at Boston (referring to the Boston Marathon bombing). Most of the video came from people with cell phones or retail stories that had cameras outside. All those are individual systems and weren’t being watched or analyzed in real time. There’s no way for the police or emergency response teams to be viewing that video because it’s all private video. If they have cameras on street corners or erect camera systems for big events, then they could be more proactive about it. That’s where this smart city thing comes in from a security and surveillance standpoint.

Where are the hot spots for smart transportation?

While London is perhaps the most notable city for having a lot of cameras, smart cities and smart transportation systems are really being pushed in China. In China, you have an astronomical number of new drivers on the road every year. It’s common not to follow the rules of the road, and there’s tons of congestion. Using sensors and cameras on the roadways could help make it safer to drive, get people following the rules of the road and lessen congestion. Imagine taking a lot of data coming from these cameras and making adjustments to how we route traffic or synch traffic light timing better. In the future instant messages could be proactively sent to vehicles to tell the drivers about congested roadway and suggest different routes.

Where does video come into play with smart cities?

Video is really compute-intensive to process, especially with the movement being toward high-definition video. Being able to process that video in a real-time manner and being able to then also run analytics on that video, and then being able to run queries on video and synch that up with other sensor data is all very compute intensive. It’s all big data.

We’re not in the camera, but maybe we’re one or two steps back from a camera where you start to get an aggregation point. When you tie in big data and where people are going with smart transportation and smart cities, Intel plays in the video server and video recorder space, bigger enterprise-type installations.

What are the future big data opportunities you see with smart cities?

Some of the companies and governments we’ve been in dialogue with, even those here in the U.S., say they want to use cameras for safety, security and congestion. But there’s a ton of data exhaust coming off those cameras and it’s just being thrown away. Information like the color of the cars, the types of cars and the number of cars on the roadway at any given time. All that data could be valuable to the business world. Insurance companies, automobile companies, retailers, fashion companies to look at fashion trends or color trends. So how do you — without being Big Brotherish — take that data, which is anonymous, and actually go out and monetize it? That’s where some OEMs ultimately want to go. But when approaching a government, their initial problem statement is around congestion, security and safety.

What’s an example of big data in a smart transportation context?

In China, Intel is working with the Anhui province and a company called Bocom, an intelligent traffic company. The plan is to do 700 intersections, each with four high-definition cameras that feed real-time analytics, data and images back to a Hadoop cluster of server computers where it can be stored and queried. Two Intel Xeon E3 NVRs are at the intersections to do the real-time analytics and process those HD video streams.

This content was originally published on the Intel Free Press website.

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