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This survey describes the current state-of-the-art in the development of automated visual surveillance systems so as to provide researchers in the field with a summary of progress achieved to date and to identify areas where further research is needed. The ability to recognise objects and humans, to describe their actions and interactions from information acquired by sensors is essential for automated visual surveillance. The increasing need for intelligent visual surveillance in commercial, law enforcement and military applications makes automated visual surveillance systems one of the main current application domains in computer vision. The emphasis of this review is on discussion of the creation of intelligent distributed automated surveillance systems. The survey concludes with a discussion of possible future directions.