The rise of surveillance startups in India

NASSCOM’s key commentary on India’s Union budget noted how big the country is betting on technology. They believe this will help shape this decade as India’s tech decade, even calling it a “Techie”. However, the state of affairs of surveillance technology, with the PDP bill not passing, is a growing concern with India’s burgeoning IT industry.

Modern computer vision algorithms master face, object and event recognition tasks. But video surveillance has been a controversial topic since the birth of AI, with its applications ranging from privacy-hindering scrutiny to identifying criminals. Last year, a complaint was filed against the Telangana government for its continued surveillance during the pandemic. While state governments began monitoring their citizens to keep COVID-19 safe during the lockdown, many did not stop it even after it ended. But this complaint was the first to be filed. TechSci Research estimates that India’s facial recognition market will grow sixfold by 2024 to $4.3 billion. It would be almost on par with China.

Monitoring start-ups

Despite these criticisms, the Gurgaon-based start-up Staqu is about to hit the headlines with its Jarvis solution, a surveillance camera with microphone. India’s Digital India campaign is promoting the next AI/ML solutions for nationwide problems, and Staqu’s has already been tapped by the UP government.

Jarvis is known for its violence detection, pose detection, person detection and facial recognition solutions to identify blacklisted people, license plate recognition, detect intrusions and more. The new update not only monitors these crimes, but also listens to them. Their audio analytics monitor the city, with a broader mission to create smarter cities. Staqu’s AI system can recognize distress sounds like gunshots or a person’s scream. This technology is powered by CNNs that further identify the types of sounds in a scene and discern patterns.

As part of its pilot program, the company watch prison fights in UP. Additionally, it is used in the retail and manufacturing sectors to detect distress sounds. Claiming it’s a product that has revolutionized modern security, Staqu described Jarvis as a “customizable AI-based video analytics engine with cutting-edge facial recognition technology and intelligent object monitoring. , crowd, perimeters and vehicles”.

Overall, Staqu has worked with eight state police forces to deliver their construction, hospitality, banking, ITES and retail solutions to generate actionable insights from CCTV footage with their real-time alert providing artificial intelligence and computer vision technology. These cameras also alert nearby hospitals or police stations in the event of an accident.

Staqu has raised major privacy concerns with ethicists and research groups questioning states’ use of these technologies as well as its lack of transparency. Unlike data protection bills in the EU and the US, India’s PDP bill is still in the works. Such applications can be dangerous in the absence of legal frameworks to control them. But that’s not stopping tons of surveillance-based tech start-ups from springing up in the country.

Last year, IIT-B researchers, in collaboration with NCETIS and SrivisifAI Technologies, leveraged the 2017-founded platform, Surakshavyuh, to demand military and remote monitoring of social distance surveillance. The platform is an enterprise-grade, ML-powered video analytics solution for detecting physical intrusions and loitering. The technology can monitor perimeters, track objects, count crowds and recognize faces, among other solutions. Additionally, the team’s solutions notify end-users of the products to take necessary action.

Hyderabad-based start-up iVIS provides security and surveillance software and hardware solutions for businesses, including video surveillance and management solution. The solution includes live video, monthly activity summary, messaging and access to archived video clips. Live streams are also accessible using mobile devices. Startups like Videonetics, Innefu Labs, and FaceTagr are more such startups used by state governments for surveillance.

Is there positive monitoring?

At the end of 2021, Sashastra Seema Bal and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology jointly launched the DRISHTI Hackathon which aims to improve border security and illegal intrusions using surveillance. The solutions would detect suspicious vehicles and use drones to monitor vulnerable areas. The SSB has invited several Indian start-ups to provide solutions in any data format and monitor Indian borders to realize this technology. The hackathon awards Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh to the winner and runner up respectively.

Surveillance technology has proven useful and useful in several situations, and while not all of its applications are dangerous, it is important for India to welcome this technology along with frameworks to ensure continued use. conscientious.

About Roberto Frank

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