Researchers at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility have developed and demonstrated artificial intelligence (AI) software that is able to detect fights on public transport through CCTV cameras.

In the next stage, they will stage a “fight” at Wollongong station and test the ability of the CCTV network and operators to act on a violent incident.

Lead researcher Dr John Barthelemy said this was the first time that this type of AI would be used by a public transport operator.

The project, which started in September 2020, was one of four winners of a Safety After Dark challenge created by Transport for NSW.

The challenge focuses on making women feel, and be safer when travelling on public transport. Research into women’s safety revealed that girls and women do not always feel safe travelling in the city at night.

“The next stage will be like moving from the lab to the real world,” Dr Barthelemy said.

“We want to test how easy it is to deploy it in a station – we know that the core of it works but we want to test all the things around it.”

The software is designed to automatically analyse real-time camera feeds and alert an operator when it detects a suspicious incident or an unsafe environment.

The data and reports automatically generated by the software can then be used to help prevent the abuse and violence committed towards women after dark in public transportation.

The software uses an open source code to predict a fight by looking at typical human poses. A human controller who accepts or rejects the suggestion then reviews footage.

The result is then used by the software to analyse images with greater accuracy.

“I really want to keep working on the solution and how we can make an impact with it,” Dr Barthelemy said.

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