Feeds

Google to fund 'video Street View' for Central London

'It's not surveillance, it's sharing'

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

April Fool A joint project by the Metropolitan Police and London's Westminster Council to put CCTV onto the Internet has received substantial financial backing from Google, The Register has learned. On completion of the first phase, practically every square inch of Central London - including narrow alleyways, council debating chambers and police interview rooms - will be accessible from anywhere in the world.

"Westminster already operates one of the most sophisticated local council CCTV systems in the world," said a council spokesman, "but it's only available in Central London, and because they don't have access to it, residents don't derive the full benefit. Similarly the Met operates a whole range of video systems, but they're not joined up, and citizens only get to see a fraction of the output every now and again on Crimestoppers."

Making as much of this generally available as possible, security considerations permitting, is the quid pro quo for Google's backing. Westminster will be able to accelerate the deployment of its cameras and expand its state of the art control centre beneath Piccadilly Circus, while Google will be able to add real-time footage of the streets, and more, to its London Street View images.

"The UK's reaction to Street View was a revelation to us," said the spokesman. "Our camera network is a positive force for public safety, but historically people have been suspicious of what they see as intrusive, all-encompassing surveillance. But Google's reception was largely positive, nothing like that. We asked ourselves why, and finally figured out that we were presenting it wrong.

"Basically, it shouldn't be about surveillance at all, it should be about sharing. That's when we got the call from Google - it was almost as if they'd been listening to our meetings."

Met video ops chief DS Visconti is more guarded about the police contribution to the system, saying only that some video from police vehicles will initially be available, along with footage from the beats of London's Community Support Officers, who are to be equipped with helmet cameras as part of a one year pilot study. These systems have already been used by other UK forces, and while the helmets are not currently web-enabled, Visconti says it might be feasible for second generation units to be used in conjunction with Westminster's municipal wi-fi network.

"We're particularly interested in seeing the insides of some of the estates and alleyways the Streetview cameras didn't penetrate," he says. "With cameras mounted on the CSOs we're now able to make sure they actually go there. We will of course have tactical support teams ready to roll whenever that happens, though."

Visconti refused to speculate on further developments. Register sources, however, say that the Met is actively working to add private CCTV systems that it already accesses to the network, and intends to add other "sharing assets" (as Visconti describes them) progressively. It is also liaising with ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, to take the system nationwide, adding motorway cameras and other local council systems.

And, once what is being called "London 2.0" is fully live, it is thought Channel 4 has an option on producing the world's largest reality TV series, with the population of one of the planet's greatest cities as the cast. "The working title is I'm a Londoner, Get Me Out of Here, but it's still early days," said a source. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
OKCupid: 'MYTH of COMPATIBILITY is as good as the TRUTH'
User experiments show lonely hearts are shallow ones
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.