Bay area residents are increasingly relying on artificial intelligence and surveillance technology to enhance public safety amid a rise in crime and police shortages.
Deep Sentinel, a California-based company that provides AI-based security, recently reported a surge in sales, citing increasing crime rates and police staffing shortages in the region as the primary factors.
According to Tomasz Borys, the company’s vice president of marketing, the Pleasanton-based business has tripled in size since the start of the coronavirus pandemic due to businesses looking for protection against “skyrocketing” burglaries and robberies.
“I would say that the business segment has just skyrocketed in the past year,” Borys said.
According to Borys, the security system uses AI-based surveillance to trigger an alarm when an object comes in view of a surveillance camera.
The system then sends the live feed to the surveillance center, where a guard is available 24/7 to warn criminals to stay away. The information is then passed on to the police department.
The system also verifies active situations to ensure a swift response from the police.
“The way that works is these cameras come with a sensor, so when there’s an object that goes in front of the camera, it will trigger the artificial intelligence really quickly within a millisecond and determine what the object is,” Borys explained. “If it’s a human, that feed within seconds will go to our live surveillance center.”
Over the past few years, crime in San Francisco has risen sharply while the SFPD has been plagued by a severe staffing shortage.
The force is short approximately 800 officers, which has taken a toll on response times.
Bay Area residents and business owners, who have been most affected by the rise in crime, have complained about the lack of security.
In fact, the situation has gotten so severe that several large retailers – such as Walgreens and Whole Foods – have been forced to close down branches.
Eleanor Hayes, the wife of a bar owner, expressed her concern regarding the lack of protection from the city.
“Small businesses in San Francisco are getting squeezed all the time, and we have no protection from the city.”
Due to the struggling police response, business owners are taking matters into their own hands with the help of AI technologies such as those produced by Deep Sentinel.
Rose Mary Jane, a cannabis bar and lounge in Oakland, is one example of a business relying on AI technology for protection.
“Most cannabis businesses in Oakland have experienced a heavy amount of burglaries, break-ins and shoplifting,” store manager Sway Macaluso said.
KTVU-TV reported that commercial burglaries have spiked by 76% in 2022.
According to Macaluso, the Deep Sentinel system recently spotted burglars trying to break into their facility before their in-person security guard did.
Borys said that thanks to their surveillance center, police were able to respond to the scene in six to eight minutes after the attempted burglary.
Another cannabis dispensary in Vallejo posted a video online showing how Deep Sentinel AI deterred two burglaries on the same night.
In this example, the Deep Sentinel AI alerted a live guard, who issued a warning to the thieves via loudspeaker.
Deep Sentinel was founded by Dave Selinger, an early employee at Amazon, who had the idea to start the company after a neighbor was a victim of a home invasion.
“He decided to take matters into his own hands and create something that would be super preventative, something that was super proactive and something that would be affordable that everyone and anyone can use,” Borys explained.
According to Borys, the company is currently testing for more effective ways to deter burglars who defy warnings, such as by using pepper spray, smoke machines or blaring sirens.
The company stated that voice deterrents scare off criminals 99% of the time.