Working in the surveillance industry, you come to realize really quick that CCTV systems can widely reduce crime when in plain sight. Most people who are considering breaking the law will think twice when they see or know that there are surveillance cameras watching their every move. As we forge on into the future, technology is improving at an insane rate. This of course comes along with many privacy concerns. There are technologies that can help solve crimes which are not being used for privacy reasons alone. One technology that rides on the border of these privacy concerns is called Persistent Surveillance Systems. These are wide area surveillance systems that are usually mounted to a plane, drone, or tower high in the sky and can capture video of whole cities or towns. These innovative systems are no longer just being used to only capture video of military battles, but also being used by the police force to watch over cities. Some of these systems are composed of 192 Megapixel, full color cameras mounted to a plane in multiple locations to keep an eye on crime from up above. These multiple cameras are mounted in a way that they point in different directions to capture separate sections of a location and the software stitches it all together as one.
Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, mentioned that he has witnessed many occurrences where people were murdered. The murderers were captured because of this technology, and most people feel that there would be even less crime once there is more press out there about these cities having surveillance up in the sky. In one specific incident, even though the video had very poor clarity, the images revealed a gang getting together to block off road access points and sending a shooter to meet his target. The cameras captured this man taking off after the body hit the ground. When the police finally received a copy of the report, they noticed that there was a picture of a blue building that the murderer ran into. This footage contained the images of a man being murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, using cameras specially fitted onto a Cessna plane. McNutt stated, “I’ve witnessed 34 of these. It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”
We have definitely become more accustomed to seeing CCTV surveillance cameras in public, and most people don’t even think twice about it. However, new technologies are here that most people aren’t even aware of yet and it’s capable of being deployed without anyone even really knowing about it. These technologies can track cars in small cities for many hours at a time. The clarity isn’t good enough to distinguish faces or license plates, but it certainly is capable of tracking an individual. If a police officer wanted to find out who they were tracking, all they have to do is go to the business or the homes of the places these individuals are visiting and ask them to help identify the person of interest.
These cameras are already being used for securing large events such as the Ohio political rally where John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate back in 2008 (Which was a stupid move in my opinion!). They have even used this technology for Police demonstrations and NASCAR races. They have even been commissioned to use it for a request that a Mexican politician put in for the city of Ciudad Juárez. These cameras have basically become a time machine for the police force, allowing them to look back at an incident that occurred during the recording.
Of course, this is becoming more and more of a civil liberty concern for city officials and civilians alike. The Supreme Court has given permission for this technology to be used as long as they are only video taping instances that can be seen with the naked eye in public. McNutt is a retired Air Force officer who has designed a similar system and has been fighting to win over the officials. He did make a good point that these flights are way cheaper and more efficient than police helicopter missions. He has also mentioned that a single camera on top of the Washington monument could possibly deter most of the crime in the area. Especially if the media speaks up about it and help make more people aware. Criminals will definitely be deterred when they hear about all the cameras that are on them when they are about to commit a particular crime. Those 192MP cameras can capture up to 50 crimes within a short 6 hour flight that would provide the city police with a stream that covers more than 1/3 of the city. McNutt feels that this technology will deter crime enough to raise property values, create better schools, increase development in the specific areas, and eventually even lower arrest rates.
How do you guys feel about this? Do you think it’s okay for them to monitor cities and towns from the sky in order to maintain public safety, or do you think it’s just going to cause more privacy issues while going against our civil liberties? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comment section below.
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