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INSIGHTS

What some camera providers never told you about privacy protection

What some camera providers never told you about privacy protection
Increasingly, the topic of privacy protection has become more prevalent. Amid this trend, regulations like GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) are requiring users to step up privacy protection when operating security cameras. Vendors, then, are putting related features into their devices to meet user requirements.
Increasingly, the topic of privacy protection has become more prevalent. Amid this trend, regulations like GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) are requiring users to step up privacy protection when operating security cameras. Vendors, then, are putting related features into their devices to meet user requirements.

For a long time, video surveillance has played a valuable role in protecting the public and end user entities. Feeds stored in the video surveillance system can help with forensic investigation after something happens. And more and more, video surveillance can play an increasingly proactive role, helping prevent something from happening by way of video analytics detecting abnormal or irregular activities.

Yet inevitably, a high concentration of surveillance cameras raises privacy concerns. What if this information is leaked? In fact, these concerns have prompted relevant regulatory bodies to put forth laws and regulations, one of the most important of which is GDPR which dictates how individual privacy should be protected in the EU region. Indeed, only by incorporating privacy protection into video technologies can video surveillance maximize its value and serve a greater public good.
Jessica Chang, Regional
Director, North Asia,
Axis Communications 
 

GDPR requirements for operating security cameras


Nowadays, under certain privacy laws or regulations for example GDPR, the end user entity may need to take further action in protecting individual privacy when conducting video surveillance. Masking individuals in the video is one example. In certain cases, for example sharing the video with or turning it over to relevant authorities, the user may need to mask irrelevant individuals or bystanders in the scene and only keep the individuals in question unmasked. In this regard, the user may have to enable the face masking function in their cameras or VMS, many of which already have privacy protection features that can benefit end users in various verticals in different application scenarios, for example:
  • Any application area where there is a need for surveillance and a need to address privacy. Markets include healthcare, retail, industrial including processing and manufacturing, logistics, education, office and government.
  • Cameras that enable views outside of their authorized area of surveillance (for instance, neighboring properties) can make use of static privacy masking. For PTZ cameras, blocking views of unintended areas is especially important given their ability to zoom in on details over long distances and their wide area coverage.
  • Safety/security and privacy use cases where the primary objective is being able to remotely monitor activities and movement, rather than identifying individuals. These include patient rooms, swimming pool areas and food processing facilities.
  • Operational efficiency use cases where the primary objective is being able to remotely monitor activities and movement, rather than identifying individuals. These include a gym or activity center where the user’s interest in having remote video monitoring may be to let customers see how busy the place is—so they can decide when it’s best to come—without exposing the identities of people in the video.


How Axis cameras alleviate user concerns towards privacy


Driven by the belief that video surveillance and privacy protection should always go hand in hand, Axis Communications offers various technologies and solutions that help end users meet their privacy needs.

In terms of cameras, all models support static privacy masking, which permanently blocks a selected area from view, while certain models support dynamic privacy masking, which safeguards people’s privacy by anonymizing or pixelating them in videos while allowing camera users to monitor activities or movements. “The above, static and dynamic masking are edge-based solutions supported in Axis network video products. They are not server-based solutions, and hence, they provide edge-based benefits such as cost-effectiveness and scalability. And masking is done in real time,” said Jessica Chang, Regional Director for North Asia at Axis Communications. A major benefit with masking and detection done on the camera from a privacy perspective is that there is no unmasked video on the network. If masking is done on server, it needs to get it unmasked from camera.

Aside from visual cameras, Axis also has thermal and radar solutions to help protect privacy.

“Using thermal cameras or radar technology are other options that lets you monitor activities and movements while ensuring that individuals in the video are anonymous.” Chang said. Only shapes — moving or not — are captured, ensuring that no personally identifiable details of a person in the scene are ever generated in the video. At a place like a community outdoor swimming pool where there may be privacy concerns, a network-based security radar can help secure the area during afterhours by detecting intrusions and automatically alerting security and activating a loudspeaker.

Indeed, while video surveillance plays a significant role in security and operational efficiency, the use of cameras has also triggered privacy concerns, which have led to stricter rules applied to organizations that use video surveillance. End users, then, turn to video surveillance products with advanced privacy features to meet the requirements. Chang adds: “Axis’ ambition is to work closely together with industry associations and users to understand their needs for privacy protection. We will offer our expertise and technologies that can help the society benefit from video surveillance, protect premises from losses, help city authorities to respond quickly to thefts and accidents, as well as identify suspects and prevent tragedies from occurring.”
 


Product Adopted:
Surveillance Cameras
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