Surveillance markets would appear to be growing steadily, even as stories leak out about the U.S. Air Force’s insect-sized drones with spying capabilities. What these and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide are full capabilities to perform surveillance around the world—and even on any domestic targets, as required. Of course, what may not be quite so obvious about these expanding surveillance capabilities is the accompanying need to process the data from all those subjects, and this could be quite a bit of data. 

Both government and private users are projecting futures where surveillance is commonplace—and even a way of life—due to the large number of miniature drones with detection devices for capturing audio and video information on a person of interest. Any activities that present security concerns will undoubtedly be accompanied by these little spies, thus ensuring that a financial deal is above board, a contract is upheld, and so forth (not to mention what such surveillance drones may mean to married life).

For example, DARPA wants micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) that can hide in plain sight and perform surveillance as if they were insects. And the Air Force is rumored to be working with the University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering, as well as private industry, on the design and development of its own miniature drones.

But in addition to being processed and stored efficiently, this spy data must be managed securely, so as to protect whatever privacy might be left for an individual. With regard to this growing private-sector surveillance market, several business opportunities immediately present themselves: Larger and more efficient solid-state memory devices represent one, with software capable of filtering and managing data being another. The data must also be protected from “prying eyes,” especially in sensitive matters where legal decisions and courtrooms may be involved.

As noted before, the potential amount of data from future surveillance activities is enormous. Details concerning any event or activity captured as a result of these activities can appear suspicious if taken out of context. As a result, meaningful data from surveillance activities will also require additional data that establishes a context for the captured information. All this will create the need for larger, more efficient data storage devices, faster computers, and software written to find meaning in all of the data captured as a result of surveillance, whether for commercial, industrial, or military reasons.

Having a need for surveillance in this world is unfortunate. But since there is a need, it should be performed as honestly and effectively as possible. Such a task can be greatly aided by advances in computers, memory, and software.