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Western societies are aging rapidly. An automated 24/7 surveillance to ensure safety of the elderly while respecting privacy becomes a major challenge. At the same time this is representative of novel and emerging video surveillance applications discovered lately besides the classic surveillance protection applications in airports, government buildings, and industrial plants. Three problems of current surveillance systems are identified. A distributed and automated smart camera based approach is proposed that addresses these problems. The proposed system's goal set is to analyze the real world and reflect all relevant-and only relevant-information live in an integrated virtual counterpart for visualization. It covers georeferenced person tracking and activity recognition (falling person detection). A prototype system installed in a home for assisted living has been running 24/7 for several months now and shows quite promising performance.