NSW uses AI to catch tunnel trespassers

The NSW government is using artificial intelligence to identify people who try to illegally gain access to tunnels in the Sydney train network.

Matthew Longland

The AI will be run over footage from around 13,000  security cameras to notify security of anyone trying to enter a tunnel.

Transport minister Andrew Constance says the technology has helped catch seven people so far.

He says there are almost 2,500 instances of trespassing through the tunnels each year for a variety of reasons including shortcuts or selfie opportunities, or more than six a day.

Four tresspassers die each year, which also causes delays and disruptions to train services.

Sydney Trains CEO Matthew Longland said the AI video analytics technology is a first for the state.

“We’re utilising our existing CCTV infrastructure to make it an incredibly savvy solution to a deadly and costly problem,”  he said.

Technology and public safety

It comes as a global survey conducted by Motorola Solutions, which sells communications software and video analytics services, showed what the company says is a global consensus on using advanced technology to improve public safety.

The company commissioned Goldsmiths, a research institution associated with the University of London, to survey 12,000 people and 50 public safety agencies from around the world including Australia.

The report, Consensus for change: transforming Safety Through Technology, says 88 per cent of citizens surveyed wanted to see public safety transformed through advanced technology.

Dr Chris Brauer from Goldsmiths said Covid-19 has changed the way citizens around the world think of public safety.

Continuing advances in video systems powered by AI software are removing the burden of workers needing to sift through hours of video footage.

Transforming Safety Through technology

 “Our shared experience of the pandemic has made us realise that technology can play a far greater role in keeping us safe and has increased our understanding of why public safety and enterprise organisations need it to respond to new threats,” he said.

The study showed 71 per cent said video cameras and data analytics were needed to address the challenges of the modern world, and 66 per cent believed video cameras were useful in public places.

“Continuing advances in video systems powered by AI software are also removing the burden of workers needing to sift through hours of video footage to look for critical incidents or clues,” the report says.

“AI is being used to quickly identify people and objects within large volumes of video content, presenting a filtered set of results which technology users can then verify.”

However the survey also highlighted the need for technology to be used in “fair, transparent and inclusive ways”, and that more public engagement was needed to increase understanding of emerging technologies like AI.

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