Peek-a-boo, they see you — and they know whether you are wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
They, of course, are cameras at Peachtree Corners City Hall that have been converted to have artificial intelligence. These “dumb” cameras turned “smart” are expected to be able to tell whether someone is wearing a facial covering or if they are practicing social distancing, according to the city.
Peachtree Corners recently announced it is adding the new technology, which is produced by Cawamo, as a way of boosting public safety by mitigating COVID-19’s spread.
“As further reflection of our smart city leadership, our work with Cawamo to customize a COVID-19 monitoring system for City Hall shows how technology is helping to solve modern problems, while also prioritizing privacy,” Peachtree Corners Chief Technology Officer and Assistant City Manager Brandon Branham said.
The cameras are the latest move taken by Peachtree Corners, which has been positioning itself in recent years as a hub for smart city technology, to develop its role as a leader in the tech field. The town’s leaders said they are the first city to deploy the system.
Officials said the system can be installed on existing cameras or DVR and NVR systems and use a combination of onsite edge and cloud artificial intelligence technologies to make sure officials get accurate information on compliance with public health guidelines with “virtually zero false alerts.”
City officials also said the system does not use facial recognition and the COVID-19 monitoring will not use personal identifiable information.
“Our highest priority, and the aim of a smart city concept overall, is the safety and security of our residents and we firmly believe this technology will help us maintain important public safety protocols as we work to slow the spread of the virus,” Branham said.
“Allowing us to instantly convert existing cameras into smart cameras also shows promise for wider deployment across the city, in addition to within workplaces in the near future.”
Peachtree Corners is also touting what it sees as a cost savings benefit in the agreement to bring in Cawamo. The company is doing free COVID-19 monitoring in cities that buy onsite equipment, according to an announcement from the city and the company.
“As the first cloud-edge video analytics company to develop mask and social distancing detection technology that connects with any existing security camera, we are thrilled to be helping the City of Peachtree Corners keep its citizens safe using the already-installed security cameras around the city,” Cawamo CEO David Yakov said.
“Peachtree Corners is a premier smart city known around the globe for its dedication to the development of emerging smart city technologies, so it was a no-brainer for it to be the first city in the United States to deploy the technology. We are honored to be providing mask and social distancing monitoring for the city and hope we can expand our footprint and help other municipalities, businesses and organizations with the same level of protection.”