Smart Cities 2021: What Challenges Are Video Analytics Developers Facing?

Intelligent video analytics systems are used in all developed countries to create smart cities, improve the quality of life and ensure the safety of people. Precisely for these purposes was developed Synesis’ Kipod system. With the help of video analytics modules, Kipod detects traffic violations, allows you to find stolen cars, count equipment at construction sites, search for criminals and missing people, notify about smoke, gunfire and other events.

The system also uses face recognition technology, and this fact was used against the developer. Anonymous Telegram channels had widely spread misinformation claiming that protesters massively recognized with the help of Kipod. Several times we tried to explain that the Kipod system is intended solely to search for predefined individuals in the video stream from connected online cameras, which was never installed in the location where mass protests took place. The platform does not have any special functionality for the Belarusian market and, moreover, was not created to “identify the protesters.”

Recall that at the moment, there is still not a single protocol in which the Kipod system was mentioned as a method of identification. Still, other recognition methods are mentioned – specific social networks, cellular providers, and online media. These products were not created to identify people, but within a particular situation, the end-user used the functionality of the products for other than their original purpose. And that is documented multiple times.

The Kipod system also has specific functions and use-methods, and in our defensive rhetoric, we could say that developers cannot be responsible for how the customer uses video analytics. The same as the car manufacures, gas stoves, cutlery or other goods cannot be responsible if when their product is used for other purposes and may cause harm if used in a wrong way.

We rely on other facts: our systems cannot massively identify people as the algorithms and hardware capabilities are suitable only for searching predefined objects. This means that all the accusatory rhetoric against the company and its products is built on inaccurate facts, fake news and deliberate post-truth methods.

Let us recall one of the most notorious cases with the American company Sandvine Inc: it provided Belarus with software products, which were later used to block access to the Internet during the last presidential election. After this information appeared in the media, Sandvine terminated the license agreement with the Belarusian side, i.e. stopped supplying software updates and technical support. This decision was not burdensome for the company because it is located in the United States. But are American software companies responsible for the inconsistent use of their technologies? In the modern world, there are no mechanisms that can control the use of systems only in a proper manner and classify user actions as correct or not.

We are convinced that product development and product use are different responsibilities. The developers do not use their technologies, but create them, design functionality, and provide technical support. Despite this, Synesis is engaged in a dialogue with online media, explaining the functional principles of the Kipod system, and responds to fake news stories. The priority of the company is transparent communication and openness, together with the delineation of responsibility for product development and its use by third parties.

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