Internet Eyes: Video Surveillance as Video Game

Internet Eyes: Video Surveillance as Video Game

Internet Eyes is an online service that opens up access to closed-circuit cameras to the public, awarding cash prizes up to £1,000 each month to the users who catch the most crooks.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 5 october 2009

Maybe Big Brother does exist, but instead of some omnipresent government construct, he’s alive in everyone of us. Or so, Tony Morgan, creator of Internet Eyes seems to think. The online service, set to go live in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire in the UK next month, opens up access to closed-circuit cameras placed in shops, restaurants and on streets to the public, awarding cash prizes up to £1,000 each month to the users who catch the most crooks.

The part internet game, part crime watch network, will sell its service to businesses that are looking to bolster their security by making their surveillance systems viewable to anyone, at anytime. For £20 a week per camera, interested owners will be connected to the Internet Eyes’ community with the peace of mind of having their locations monitored 24 hours a day.

The Daily Mail explains how Internet Eyes works:

Players collect points by watching the cameras, which show CCTV images in real-time, and click a button every time they see something suspicious taking place.

An SMS or text message, along with a still image of the alleged crime, is sent to whoever controls the camera. They can then decide whether or not to take action.

The camera controller will send a feedback email back to the player indicating whether a crime has taken place.

Players are awarded one point for spotting a suspected crime and three points if they see someone committing an actual crime.  Players also lose points if the camera operator rules that the alert was not a crime.

Not surprisingly, civil rights groups are up in arms, worried that the service impinges on people’s privacy and could lead to rampant abuse. Morgan counters, pointing to the potential of being watched as a strong deterrent to crime that ultimately makes everyone safer, also noting that there are necessary safeguards already in place. Players who incorrectly identify three crimes will be barred from further play. Small comfort perhaps, for individuals wrongly accused.

Despite these criticisms, Internet Eyes will be rolled out across the whole of Britain in December, with a worldwide release slated for next year.

Daily Mail: Internet game that awards points for people spotting real crimes on CCTV is branded ‘snooper’s paradise’

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