Urban U.S. Cities Utilizing Surveillance Systems Developed for the Military Raises Privacy Concerns

Small planes have been fitted with a surveillance camera that can see and record a 25 square mile area for up to six hours, according to Security Product Depot. The camera can watch 10,000 times than that of a police helicopter and cost less.

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Wide Area Motion Imagery

Wide Area Motion Imagery

We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people.

(PRWEB) May 21, 2014

Compton, California has utilized the wide-area surveillance camera to monitor criminal activities, according to Homeland Security News Wire on April 22, 2014. The system, created by the Ohio based Persistent Surveillance Systems (PPS), has been used by the U.S. Military to allow soldiers to locate bombing suspects in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” said Ross McNutt, President of PSS and a former Air Force veteran. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”

Two other cities, Philadelphia and Dayton Ohio have also used the system. The system was used in Philadelphia to hunt down killers and their vehicles, hours after the murder of a gang member. The SWAT team in Dayton used it in a dogfighting operation raid.

Footage from the security cameras can be used to track residents and cars as they move about.

Privacy advocates are troubled that they may develop a database of footage showing innocent residents. “There are an infinite number of surveillance technologies that would help solve crimes. . . but there are reasons that we don’t do those things, or shouldn’t be doing those things,” said Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton postdoctoral fellow in human rights.

McNutt of PSS countered privacy concerns saying that he sought advice from the American Civil Liberties Union when creating the privacy policy for PSS. The policy outlines the rules for who can access the images and footage and the length of data storage.

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