Dutch supermarkets using AI surveillance

Dutch tech website Tweakers reports that 110 supermarkets in The Netherlands (ca. 1,7%) have started to use cameras and software made by the French company Veesion to prevent theft and shoplifting. The software analyses customer behavior and claims to be able to detect when people put an item in their pockets. It sends out push notifications to employees when it detects such suspicious behavior.

Large supermarket chain Jumbo is considering adoption for the near future for 100s of stores.

The software is called “Intelligent anti-shoplifting system”, which the company describes as “gesture-based recognition software”.

This AI-based software uses the latest advances in Deep Learning to automatically detect shoplifting gestures in real-time in supermarkets from existing surveillance cameras.

source: Veesion website
Veesion proposition

This is yet another user-case of Urban AI used in particular physical situations, almost entirely geared towards surveillance, control and/or consumer optimization, in what I have called in the past ‘the logic of the 3 Cs’: consumption, capsularization and control.

An increasing number of everyday urban spaces are becoming governed by digital technologies and software. This has huge ramifications for ‘inclusion’ in these spaces: the degree to which these spaces are open and equal for everyone despite their backgrounds. It has been shown in the past that technologies in general, and algorithms/ AI in particular, are never neutral but perpetuate and reinforce all kinds of biases.

To me, and a few colleagues, the big open question is what civic uses of urban AI could be, that fosters public values instead of narrower single-stakeholder interests.

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