IBM helps Chicago keep an eye on its citizens
Big Blue software to monitor thousands of surveillance cams
Next time you're in Chicago, say cheese.
Chances are good your likeness will be captured on a futuristic video surveillance system the city is rolling out with the help of IBM and several other tech companies.
Today, officials from Chicago and IBM announced the initial phase of Operation Virtual Shield, which they're trumpeting as one of the most advanced security networks in any US city. It will use IBM software to analyze in real time thousands of hours of video being recorded on more than 1,000 cameras that run continuously.
The project, which has the ability to read license plates and zoom in on items as small as a backpack, comes three weeks after statistics released under a freedom of information request suggested that video surveillance cameras installed in London did little to solve crime in that city. Many professors also say there are no studies that show cameras reduce crime.
While IBM officials refused to say how much the system will cost, they were quick to say it would be boon to the city.
"Cities are faced with ever-increasing threats such as routine crime or terrorist activity and the only way to preventively protect citizens is through a truly sophisticated security surveillance system," IBM vice president Mike Daniels said.
Thousands of security cameras are already being used in Chicago by businesses and police. At least some of them are connected by a unified fiber network and by a wireless mesh. But right now, there aren't enough eyes to monitor them all, and that's where the IBM software comes in. Big Blue says the software will be able to search throughout the network to locate cars or other items under suspicion.
The project is being funded at least partially by the Department of Homeland Security. It is unknown when the system will be fully operational. ®
The first myth is that cctv prevents crime, the second is that anyone is watching them. If you replace people with cameras be prepared to watch rather than do anything about crime after the fact when the software flags it.
Allo allo allo wot's all this then?
A commonly touted reason for the proliferation of increasing surveillance technology is that it helps to reduce crime and frees the copper on the street to concentrate on more important things ( coffee? doughnuts? harrassing motorists? chasing joyriding kids to the detriment of pedestrians?). So , the question is, how many cops would 1000 cameras and the involvement of IBM actually pay for? Or how many bobbies would would all the public surveillance cameras and gatsos provide us with in the UK? Even if they just drove around in Panda cars the way they used to at least there would be some kind of approachable police pesence on the streets in stead of an inscrutable camera up a pole.
Re. Partial improvement
The problem with your logic is that by giving any organization that much power, there must be accountability. And that is impossible, as you will never prevent corruption at the highest levels and dishonest officials (or merely unbalanced extremists that managed to rise to power) will use this for their personal agendas. Soon you will end up with a society where there is no tolerance, where if you make the mistake of jaywalking or spitting on the sidewalk, you will be dealt with harshly by a megalomaniac prosecutor who has a personal axe to grind. You could argue that at least everyone would be treated equally, but the truth is that everyone would just be forced to conform or pay the penalty. Eventually a nasty rebellion would ensue to reset things to the proper levels. Like a raging forest fire occurring because natural burns are repressed and the tinder just builds up. A little anarchy and anonymity is necessary for a functioning, self-cleansing society. (IMHO)