Do you know if your activities were monitored today? If you walked down a major city street, the answer is most likely yes — for example, it’s estimated the average New Yorker walking down the street is captured on video hundreds of times a day. We take a look at the market for surveillance systems, one that’s expected to grow to $106 billion by 2026.
Here at Formaspace, we’ve seen a strong uptick in demand for our custom furniture solutions for monitoring stations.
Many these installations are destined for traditional surveillance activities, ranging from law enforcement activities designed to keep the public safe from criminal activity or threats of terrorism to private security monitoring systems designed to quickly identify theft, vandalism, and other illegal acts.
But there’s more to the story.
Three important new trends are driving today’s rapid growth in surveillance systems.
Trend 1: Next-Generation Mini Satellites Are Monitoring the Earth 24×7.
The first revolutionary trend in surveillance is taking place over our heads – up in space.
Once the exclusive domain of military spy satellites (such as the recently declassified Corona project conducted by the CIA starting in 1959) or highly capitalized mega-corporations (think of the first Telstar telecommunication satellite from AT&T, first launched in 1962), space is becoming democratized, thanks to today’s extremely compact and lightweight mini-satellites, which can be launched into low orbit at substantially lower cost. (Look for an in-depth report on mini-satellites coming soon.)
Live View of the Earth as Seen from the International Space Station
Increased access to surveillance in space is opening up the market in new and unexpected ways.
For example, today’s precision satellite satellites not only allow commodity traders to track all the world’s cargo shipping, but they can also measure how low a ship sits in the water, to calculate the amount oil or heavy agricultural products, such as soybeans, carried in the hold. As you can imagine, access this level of information gives commodity traders a key competitive advantage when making trades in the commodity futures markets.
Weather forecasting is also advancing rapidly thanks to sophisticated surveillance monitoring from space. Things have come a long way from the first primitive weather satellite images, such as the one below taken of Hurricane Carla in 1962.
Today’s satellites are able to calculate more than just the temperature, cloud cover, barometric pressure, and wind speed: they can pinpoint fires in national forests and measure the rate of glacier melting in the Arctic. Given the increase in surveillance data, meteorologists predict that in the near future they may be able to generate useful local weather forecasts up to two weeks in advance, up from the current five-day forecasts.
Environmentalists are also taking advantage of satellite data as well, from identifying illegal gold mines activities in Africa to pinpointing the location of illegal poachers and loggers in the Amazon rain forest.
Modern GPS satellite technology helps Amazon tribe combat illegal poaching and deforestation.
Trend 2: Rapid Growth of Surveillance Monitoring on the Ground
What’s happening in space is also happening on the ground, as rapid advances in miniaturization and wireless communication drive the growth of the surveillance market.
Compact high-resolution video cameras (often powered by solar cells and equipped with Wi-Fi communication) make it easier than ever before to deploy surveillance cameras in our public spaces, on the dashboards of our cars to the vests of law enforcement officers (body cams).
Statistica estimates that there were 62 million security cameras in use across the USA in 2016. It’s a growing market. Nestor Research projects that security cameras will be a $2.8 billion market by 2021.
Privacy advocates are alarmed by the Chinese government’s “Social Credit” initiative, which uses cameras and other surveillance tools to monitor the activities of its individual citizens.
But the most sophisticated surveillance system may be the one in our pocket: the modern smartphone. Not only can our location be tracked via cell phone towers and GPS satellites, but our individual steps are also now being tracked via Bluetooth (the same protocol that allows hands-free phone calls) as we walk through shopping malls and deliberate on which products to buy.
The newest model cars are also monitoring our behavior as well, in what McKinsey estimates will be a $750 billion business by 2030. Axios reports that Tesla cars are particularly keen on collecting data about your individual driving habits as well as short videos of driving conditions – to create a database that will presumably help build up a knowledge base for future self-driving cars.
Trend 3: Using AI-Powered Big Data Solutions to Make Sense of All the Collected Surveillance Inputs
This brings us to our third trend: What could you possibly do with all this collected surveillance data?
The answer is not much – at least, not without the assistance of artificial-intelligence-powered computer automation tools, which can dig through mountains of big data to identify important insights, trends, and statistics.
Facial recognition technology is a good example of turning raw surveillance data into something useful.
If you’ve ever confirmed the identity of a friend on a Facebook photo or used a camera to unlock your iPhone, you know the power of facial recognition.
Dr. Mike Pound of the University of Nottingham explains the technology behind computer-based facial recognition.
What does this mean in practice?
Here’s a concrete example:
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which has been implementing facial recognition technology at US airports recently, reported that among 19 million travelers, it had located 100 “imposters” whose identities don’t match up with their travel documents.
But will facial recognition technology go too far? What about other “predictive” analysis algorithms that attempt to identify “suspicious behavior” by watching people on camera, a la the movie The Minority Report.
Privacy advocates warn about the potential for misuse and whether computer algorithms can be trusted to be fair and unbiased.
The movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise has inspired a generation of user interface (UX) designers, but will we allow computers to predict the behavior of ordinary citizens in order to take corrective action before a crime is committed?
Formaspace Builds Top Quality Custom Monitoring Stations
Is surveillance monitoring part of your business?
It’s a growing business for us here at Formaspace.
Our products are industrial-strength by design and designed for continuous use. We use heavy-duty, powder-coated steel for long life. And we guarantee our products for a full 12 years, even if you use them 24×7 around the clock.
Here are a few recent projects to show you what we mean:
Monitoring Installation for a Quick Serve Restaurant
Need to assure quality at your quick serve restaurant? What about monitoring the security of your staff and guests? This custom Formaspace workstation provides a secure workspace with ample space to mount multiple surveillance monitors.
U-Shaped Monitoring Station Designed for Multiple Users
Four users can work together at this custom U-shaped workbench. Surveillance monitors can be mounted securely on the built,-in strong, heavy-duty steel frame, and there is ample workspace for computers as well as convenient custom storage available for documents.
Industrial Production monitoring station with ESD-protection
As a leading provider of industrial furniture, we know the importance of electrostatic discharge protection in electronics assembly areas. This custom monitoring station has built-in ESD protection: the entire surface is resistant to accidental static electric shocks, which can damage sensitive electronic equipment. Strong steel frames support multiple surveillance monitors used to keep track of specialized production activities.
On the Job Ergonomics Play a Critical Role in Worker Health and Wellbeing
Long hours of surveillance monitoring work can lead to eye strain, back pain, and fatigue. Formaspace specializes in custom workstation designs with important ergonomic features built-in. For example, our sit-to-stand workbenches can be raised up and down at the touch of a button – to accommodate different sized personnel and to provide employees the opportunity to change sitting positions throughout the day for better circulatory health. Worker safety is another feature of custom industrial furniture from Formaspace: the custom QA monitoring station above (built for a major PC computer manufacturer) allows workers to monitor sophisticated server tests on pre-production equipment without having to manually lift the heavy test articles. (The articulated racks on the left hand side move up and down, allowing heavy computer equipment to slide on and off the workbench.)
Remember, if you can imagine it, we can build it – here at the Formaspace factory headquarters. We are an All-American made furniture manufacturer dedicated to serving the government, military, industrial, logistics, laboratory, security, and education markets.
Find out why four out of five of our customers are listed on the Fortune 500, and why our products are found in more than 350 leading colleges and universities, including most of the Ivy League institutions.
All it takes is one phone call.