CLEVELAND — Illegal dumping is off to a fast start in Cleveland in 2023, and so is the city in its effort to combat the perennial problem by developing monitoring systems using artificial intelligence.
The city has teamed up with Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University through the Internet of Things, or IOT Collaborative, to create a deployable smart camera system that will recognize illegal dumping as it occurs and report it to law enforcement.
The development project was made possible by funding from the Cleveland Foundation.
Nick Barndt, CWRU executive director for the Institute for Smart, Secure, and Connected Systems, told News 5 that field testing on the systems will take place in the coming months.
“How can we harness technology, but make sure we do it in a way that serves the public interest,” Barendt said. “How can we improve the operational capabilities of these types of systems and reduce false positives.”
Barendt said his team is working on creating a corridor on one campus that could be used as a controlled test bed.
Where we can pull boxes or furniture or whatever into the field of view and make sure we can detect them, he said. You detect things that come into the field of view of the cameras, and they don’t leave the field of view within a reasonable amount of time. There has to be some privacy by design considerations, Plus banners and other things we’ll have to put up.”
Brian Ray, a law professor at Cleveland State University and director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, told News 5 that the team is working on creating smart cameras that won’t cause privacy problems in the neighborhood.
“We don’t want a ‘big brother’ society,” Ray said, “but we do want to get rid of illegal dumping. We want to make sure the implementation is effective, but also make sure the implementation goes after the right people.”
Ray stated that AI takes responsibility for aspects such as monitoring.
“Someone has to monitor this system to the extent that it’s an application-focused system,” he said, “you have to have the ability to go out and publish on it.”
Larry Jones II, Cleveland’s deputy commissioner of public safety, said the effort will work using some of the same camera technologies that are part of the Safe Smart CLE video surveillance program, which already has 1,700 cameras set up throughout Cleveland.
Jones said, “We want to work on an analytics system that identifies actual trash bags, tires, and they could be TV screens, things that plague our neighborhoods. We want to develop an analysis that will alert us to those notifications, rather than just the usual motion activation in the area.”
Jones agreed that more human assets in the form of additional city staff would also be needed to make the AI smart camera surveillance system effective.
“Then we can refer this matter to law enforcement and prosecutors and prosecute some of these people who are committing these crimes in our neighborhoods,” he said. “We hope to deter people from committing these illegal dumping offenses, so the goal of having signage and making sure areas are well lit though our LED project is at the forefront of that.”
The IOT Collaborative team hopes to have a prototype of a deployable AI illegal dumping monitoring system by the end of summer 2023.