NVIDIA's AI may keep watch over smart cities of the future

Deep-learning AI system Metropolis could help analyze the flood of video surveillance data.


Artificial intelligence is pushing into every area of our life with deep inroads to our mobile devices, our video games, and even our own brains. Video surveillance could the next step if NVIDIA's new video analytics platform, Metropolis, is successful. The initiative, announced just ahead of the annual GPU conference this week, will use learning AI to analyze the massive amount of data from surveillance video for "public safety, traffic management and resource optimization."

According to NVIDIA, there are already hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras around the globe, with the number expected to rise to the 1 billion mark by 2020. Human beings have a hard time sifting through the flood of moving images, storing the majority of it on hard drives for later viewing. NVIDA thinks that deep learning AI can help video analytics much more accurately than humans or even real-time computer monitoring. The company has partnered with more than 50 companies that make security cameras, including Hikvision. "The benefit of GPU deep learning is that data can be analyzed quickly and accurately to drive deeper insights," said Shiliang Pu, president at the Hikvision Research Institute in China.

A city with cloud-connected, AI-powered surveillance systems in place could find missing persons, notify residents of nearby emergencies, alert police to crimes in progress or even send out traffic congestion warnings. It could also track and monitor our behavior — both legal and otherwise — along with gathering personal data for advertisers. Tomorrow can be both exciting and scary at the same time. Whether the city of the future keeps us safe, keeps us in line or something in-between will depend on how we implement emerging technology like this now.