According to the ministry of home affairs, the national crime rate increased by 34.8% between 1999 and 2019. India has been tackling this issue by partaking in the Smart Cities scheme, whereby urban areas use digital and telecommunication technologies to create a safer and more efficient city. The city of Hyderabad boasts one million CCTV cameras, making it the most surveilled city in India and the 16th-most surveilled city in the world.
The city of Gurugram has been using 600 rotating video analytic CCTV cameras to help the police detect traffic violations, track stolen vehicles, manage social distancing regulations and identify and fine individuals for illegal garbage disposal. Abhijit Shanbhag, founder and CEO of Graymatics, a Silicon Valley-founded and Singapore-based cognitive multimedia analytics company, tells Sudhir Chowdhary that many more cities can and should avail of these services. Excerpts:
What are the benefits of using smart CCTV instead of regular CCTV?
Over the last few years, CCTVs have grown exponentially in numbers all around the world. These cameras just collect raw information and they still require human intervention to act on critical events. This would lead to manual errors as it is not practical to expect the security personnel to go through every feed 24×7. This is where smart CCTVs come in. Video analytics help interpret these videos and can send alerts based on custom requirements to not only identify security threats but also to understand user behaviour—providing critical insights to businesses and city authorities.
Smart CCTVs enable city authorities to detect traffic violations such as speeding, red light violations, various driving violations, dangerous pedestrian behaviour, etc., to ensure safety in streets.
How does the Smart Cities scheme detect and track criminal activity?
Smart Cities largely leverage Smart CCTV’s to keep the city safe by leveraging powerful AI-based solutions, such as Graymatics, applied to the CCTV feeds to automatically detect various kinds of suspicious and/or criminal activities anywhere in the city. Any instances of criminal activity such as assault, brandishing of weapon, fire, vandalism and/or suspicious behaviour will immediately be detected by the AI platform linking to the CCTVs, at which point an alert is created and assigned accordingly to law enforcement officials.
For forensic actions also, the authorities will be able to track the movement of criminals by first scanning through thousands of CCTVs based on various known behavioural, clothing attributes and/or facial recognition when possible to very quickly piece out the suspected criminal’s journey during the last several days. In the case of road safety, authorities can identify cars and people involved in hit-and-run cases with advanced CCTV capabilities such as number plate recognition and vehicle identification analytics based on colour, make, model, etc.
What are the Smart Cities projects that Graymatics has worked on?
Graymatics has been working on different Smart Cities within India’s East Zone and we are kicking off soon within various other states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. We are also active in Smart City projects in the US, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Besides smart city solutions, Graymatics is also actively engaged in multiple smart space projects across the Asia-Pacific region. Some of these projects include airports, ports, highways, condominium communities, etc., across SE Asia, the Middle East and beyond.
What is the company’s overall objective in the Smart Cities segment?
Graymatics wants to make innovative and highly specialised technology solutions accessible and usable for smart cities. Our purpose is to create a versatile and scalable platform that can collect actionable data from the CCTV’s and leverage technology to help analyse a wide range of user behaviours in public facilities. While implementing such technologies today is quite expensive and limited to law enforcement or anti-terrorism, Graymatics wants to revolutionise the public infrastructure sector by building smarter and secure places for a better future.
What are your views on the Smart Cities projects in India?
We believe that India is at a critical juncture in ramping up its smart cities scheme and these projects would play an instrumental role in driving India’s economic growth for the next few decades and beyond. As some of these projects are in early stages, it is also the right time to decide on the right software/services that would help enable our public infrastructure to become “smart”, agile and reliable. The key is to choose solutions which can easily scale up and adapt to a wide variety of unseen circumstances, e.g., the Covid-19 pandemic. Graymatics understands these challenges and strives to build holistic solutions to address these issues.