Sunday, November 25, 2007

Big Brother is Watching

When is enough, enough? At what point will we stand up and tell our civil servants and police departments that no, they can not keep track of our every movement, that free citizens should not be under 24 hour surveillance.

First we have the somewhat irritating stop light and speed cams. Technology that is supposedly to be used to improve traffic safety, but in reality is just a means of revenue generation that has absolutely no effect on safety.

Next we have video monitoring of our public areas. Dallas has the Central Business District Video Surveillance Project. Initially, this project consisted of 34 cameras located in the central business district of Dallas, near the West End. In March there were 40, and who knows how many there are now. The current goal is 150 cameras.

Both of these types of surveillance are well known and have been accepted in the communities where they are established. The minority of folks who speak out about them are ignored as even more money is poured into these projects.

Here is something that you may not know about, the Remington ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter 900. Sounds like something out of Robo Cop.

Here are a few of the "Unique Capabilities" of the Mobile System:

  • License Plate Reading (LPR) system operates independently of officer on board (in the background) - enhancing officer safety by keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the scene.

  • Works at patrol and highway speeds - oncoming differential speeds of in excess of 120MPH and passing speeds in excess of 75MPH+ (truly mobile-to-mobile). LPR translates the read plate data into a digital image, checks versus an onboard hot list, and returns an alarm back to the operator in milliseconds for appropriate interdiction.

  • Cameras are able to read up to 4 lanes of traffic with a single vehicle. Efficient High Speed cameras allow officers to read 8-10,000 plates in just one shift with just a single vehicle mount.
  • Let that sink in for a second. One cruiser can scan, identify and document 8-10,000 vehicles per shift, across four lanes of traffic, at highway speeds. Would it bother you to know that this system is already deployed in 24 states and by the federal .gov?

    Here is a quote from Arizona DPS Director Roger Vanderpool:

    "Working with the MPH-900 is like fishing with dynamite…its tremendous."

    Now it seems that cameras on traffic lights, light poles and police cruisers are not enough. Big Brother needs even more tools in the surveillance box to keep track of us.

    Enter the unmanned aircraft.

    From Click2Houston:

    By Stephen Dean

    It seems HPD got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, playing with new toys.
    WALLER COUNTY, Texas -- Houston police started testing unmanned aircraft and the event was shrouded in secrecy, but it was captured on tape by Local 2 Investigates.

    Neighbors in rural Waller County said they thought a top-secret military venture was under way among the farmland and ranches, some 70 miles northwest of Houston. KPRC Local 2 Investigates had four hidden cameras aimed at a row of mysterious black trucks. Satellite dishes and a swirling radar added to the neighbors' suspense.

    Then, cameras were rolling as an unmanned aircraft was launched into the sky and operated by remote control.
    That's what we need, more "eyes in the sky" to keep track of us. The helicopters and aircraft that are currently owned by HPD must not be enough. The article goes into potential uses of the aircraft, and to HPD's reaction to being caught. One part of the story that should get more attention, is an outright lie told by HPD to Channel 2.
    Houston police contacted KPRC from the test site, claiming the entire airspace was restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. Police even threatened action from the FAA if the Local 2 helicopter remained in the area. However, KPRC reported it had already checked with the FAA on numerous occasions and found no flight restrictions around the site, a point conceded by Montalvo.
    For more, go on and read the article.

    Remember, while out and about, smile you're on candid camera.

    H/T to The War on Guns for the drone article.


    Justin Buist said...

    Technology that is supposedly to be used to improve traffic safety, but in reality is just a means of revenue generation that has absolutely no effect on safety.

    Oh, they have an effect on safety; just not the intended one.

    Red-light cameras are supposed to make us safer by discouraging people from running red lights. The trouble is that they work too well. Numerous studies have found that when these cameras are put in place, rear-end collisions increase dramatically. Drivers who once might have stretched the light a bit now slam on their brakes for fear of getting a ticket, with predictable results. A study of red-light cameras in Washington, D.C., by The Washington Post found that despite producing more than 500,000 tickets (and generating over $32 million in revenues), red-light cameras didn't reduce injuries or collisions. In fact, the number of accidents increased at the camera-equipped intersections.

    Likewise, red-light cameras in Portland, Ore., produced a 140 percent increase in rear-end collisions at monitored intersections, and a study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council found that although red-light cameras decreased collisions resulting from people running traffic lights, they significantly increased accidents overall.

    AlanDP said...

    Yep. Previous commenter beat me to it. All data thus far indicates that traffic light cams create a safety hazard.

    LibertyPlease said...

    Our ever expanding police state is depressing. The increasing surveilance, increasing militarization of police, the prison system becoming a for-profit industry, and worst of all, our 300+ million countrymen acclimating to it.....

    dj said...

    Heavy handed government is why people left Egland and came to America,,now we are regressing.
    For an interesting debate on Red Light cameras check out the Albq. papers they are dealing with this issue as this is written