Earcams Listen to the Sound of Violence
Camera's are getting ears: in the Dutch city Groningen surveillance camera's are equipped with sound detection technology to detect sounds of violence. The company behind the technology, Sound Intelligence, says:
Our technology is inspired by the human auditory system and allows the detection and classification of all kinds of sound sources in arbitrary noisy acoustic environments.A news item on Dutch television reported today that Groningen has been experimenting with the technology in the city's center without the knowledge of the Dutch privacy watchdog, or the public for that matter. It has been pointed out that this "sound surveillance" may be a violation of art. 139(b)(2) of the Dutch Penal Code, which forbids the (wire)tapping and recording of conversations in the public sphere. Groningen's mayor and those who designed the "earcams" point out that the sound surveillance merely picks up sounds of violence, point the camera towards the source of this sound and does not record anything. This is a thin line to walk, and may prove too thin under further legal scrutiny. By the way, under some journalistic scrutiny the mayor had the best argument of all why this extention of surveillance should be allowed: it may be intrusive, but it is for a good cause.
- - -(A few technical details, in English, on the company's website. The picture above is of the sound of an aircraft, which can be a pretty violent, here in Amsterdam.)