CCTV will now ‘hear’, as well as see

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth have made CCTV cameras even smarter,' creating a technology that allows the cameras to hear' a crime taking place and spin to catch it on film.

The cameras will be able to use artificial intelligence software to allow them to detect the sounds of breaking glass, someone shouting, or the noise of a crowd gathering, and will be able to turn to face the scene within about 300 milliseconds - the same amount of time it would take a person to turn their head if they heard a scream. The software would then alert the camera operator immediately to the suspicious behaviour.

The university said the benefits of this technology not only include alerting camera operators to potential crimes in real time, but it will also mean police officers won't have to sit through hours of recordings to find the crime footage looking for the action or noise indicating the crime, because the software will be able to identify them.

Dr David Brown, director of the university's Institute of Industrial Research, said he expects the technology could get even smarter over time.

"The longer artificial intelligence is in the software, the more it learns," he explained. "Later versions will get cleverer as time goes on, perhaps eventually being able to identify specific words being said or violent sounds."

The scientists are also working on adapting and developing software to identify visual patterns as well, including a person raising their arms suddenly or someone running.

The researchers hope these smart cameras' will help dramatically in cutting response time to the scenes as well as catching more crimes on tape.

According to figures obtained by the London Assembly's Liberal Democrats last year, just one in five crimes get solved despite spending 200 million over ten years installing and maintaining 10,000 CCTV cameras across London.

The party called for a rollback of surveillance, and earlier this month the Home Affairs Committee told parliament the government should cut back on data collection in order to prevent Britain from becoming a "surveillance society."