- Just when you thought government surveillance had gotten bad enough, a U.S. company went and developed a way for authorities to keep a constant eye-in-the-sky over your neighborhood.
The company is called Persistent Surveillance Systems, and it includes 12 high-resolution cameras mounted on a specially outfitted Cessna. Unlike the aerial photography of WWII that included mounting single cameras triggered by the pilot to capture still-frames of Nazi Germany, the 12 high-resolution aerial cameras on the PSS planes view and record live video footage of all activity over a 25 square mile (64.7 sq km) area.
Also unlike WWII aerial photography, where the still photography would be collected and analyzed only after the planes landed, the videos captured aboard the PSS flights are beamed down live to analysts waiting on the ground for them.
Recording Crimes for the Police
The way the company justifies recording such a large area – including many private homes – for up to six hours at a time, is that the flights can capture multiple crimes happening. That footage can be used later to not only capture the criminals, but also convict them.
In 2012, the company few such planes over Compton, California and captured multiple crimes over the course of nine days, including murders, robberies and more. The flights reportedly captured a total of 34 killings in areas where flights were conducted, including Ohio, California and Mexico.
The aerial camera systems have already been used during a Republican rally in Ohio, during police demonstrations over various cities, for security over NASCAR races, and for traffic impact studies.
The entire system has shades of the movie Minority Report, where humans with special powers to see the future are able to predict crimes before they occur. In this case, it isn’t humans with special powers, but airplanes with eyes on everything at all times.
The system showed gang attacks and killings, tracked the movement of criminals from one crime scene to another, and according to Ross McNutt, the president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, acts as a crime deterrent once the public knows that authorities have a constant eye-in-the-sky.
Civil Liberties and Privacy
In the book 1984 by George Orwell, every citizen comes under constant surveillance by the authorities through the use of telescreens in every home.
While the Persistent Surveillance System doesn’t record all activities inside everyone’s home, it does record all activities around the home, and everything you do while you are out and about in town. And just like the totalitarian dictator of Oceania claimed that the public surveillance was for the sake of the people’s safety, this is exactly the claim that’s made for the use of PSS.
McNutt told the Washington Post that he believes the new surveillance flights will do just that – protect the public and improve the community.
“He envisions such steep drops in crime that they will bring substantial side effects, including rising property values, better schools, increased development and, eventually, lower incarceration rates as the reality of long-term overhead surveillance deters those tempted to commit crimes.”
The Police Chief of Dayton Ohio, Richard Biehl, openly admits that he wants to public to fear the surveillance system.
“I want them to be worried that we’re watching. I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.”
This is a general attitude spreading throughout police departments around the country. It’s an attitude that has led to the militarization of police in America. McNutt complains that politicians aren’t willing to concede that his surveillance system is appropriate. He complains that it’s because they aren’t serious about crime.
“If you could get rid of the crime stigma you would see house prices rise and businesses move there. I am frustrated that politicians don’t have the leadership to do it.”
However, he ignores the fact that most politicians understand the constitutional problems with his approach, much better than he does.
What’s your take on this new aerial surveillance system? Is it appropriate to monitor neighborhoods from the skies for public safety, or is it an overwhelming breach of privacy and civil liberties? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com