Police Helicopter w/ long range cameras part of larger Ring of Iron - New York Style

This is actually something that popped up in Wired Magazine.

Turns out, the NYPD recently put their Big Brother system to use. In an effort to fight terrorism, New York City decided to create their own “Ring of Iron” similar to the surveillance systems in London.  Instead of a simply passive system, where cameras everywhere may capture disparate footage, and later reassembled as a witness to the crime, New York takes the offensive approach.  All of the cameras in the NYPD system link to central headquarters.  Facial recognition may be applied against the video inputs, while street-level license plate cameras look for vehicles of interest.  Fox News finally made it inside of the current show piece of the system, the flying eye in the sky with massive cameras and free range over the entire city:

An ubertech “verti-bird,” as Fox News is calling it, is flying over the skies of Manhattan allowing police to see and recognize a face from two miles away, peer inside a building from three to four miles away, and track a suspect car from 12 miles away.

In addition to all the high tech video equipment and cameras on the outside, the NYPD is works on automated street level controls.  Currently, concrete barricades block off certain portions of The City’s Financial District from vehicular traffic.  The NYPD wants to control that area and several other spots in the city with retractable barriers that may be enabled at a moments notice.  When coupled with stop light connectivity, the police should be able to dynamically reroute the complete traffic grid.  Directing a vehicular suspect to preset immobilization zones could minimize losses in road pursuits and foil potential terrorists plots.

What good are all of these controls when someone ducks inside one of the numerous high-rises with dozens of entry/exit ways?  Don’t worry, the police department expects surveillance on the inside of buildings will be tied in as well.  And while they’re at it, they want HVAC tie in and final architectural/blueprint approval.  They already “moved” the Freedom Tower from the original developer’s design, citing the distance from the West Side Highway.

I’m all about security, but this might be far too many homogeneous controls in one location with one small organization using them.  I don’t know what kind of policy the NYPD puts in place, but the organization’s small enough that collusion necessary to circumvent two person controls already exists.  It’s the Fraternal Order of Police – “brotherhood”, right?  We’ve seen plenty of TV shows and movies where Hollywood dramatizes the cop stalking his ex-wife; wasn’t that the season finale of “Desparate Housewives”?  What’s to say that Joe doesn’t just want to check up on his girlfriend and swing the eye of the camera over for a quick peak?  Maybe the guy on duty tonight has an ax to grind with the insurance company that just moved in to the brand new building downtown; man, it’s downright hot in here today!  And isn’t this sort of thing the reason Internal Affairs divisions exist?  The whole closed ranks system prevents a department from ratting anyone out…

Now, I’m not sure what kind of legislation we have in place to prevent this sort of thing.  The perimeter controls may easily be explained away by terrorist controls.  But with the potential extreme loss of privacy, it actually feels more like Big Brother than I care to think…


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