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Eye In the Sky For City Crime Fighting 389

Posted by kdawson
from the lawn-forcement-panopticon dept.
Tiger4 writes "The mayor of the City of Lancaster in the Antelope Valley of southern California is considering a high-definition video flying platform to aid in crime fighting. The aircraft, would circle the city constantly, able to zoom in on activity spots instantly. 'You never know when you are being watched or followed. It would be stupid to commit a crime. You see it with such detail,' said Mayor R. Rex Parris, who took a ride last week in a camera-equipped airplane with pilot Dick Rutan. 'I have every hope that Lancaster will be the first city to deploy it. I've never been so excited about anything.' Dick Rutan is the same pilot who flew around the world non-stop in the Voyager, custom built by his brother Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites in Mojave." The aircraft is nothing special, a garden-variety Cessna or the like, but "the camera is an example of technology developed for and used by the military making a transition to civilian applications, Rutan said."
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Eye In the Sky For City Crime Fighting

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  • Next step (Score:5, Funny)

    by redcaboodle (622288) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:35AM (#28648741)
    Outlaw roofs.
    • Re:Next step (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:40AM (#28648799)
      Why, with the right type of camera, you can see right through them.

      Btw, could someone tag the story "bluethunder"? I can't seem to add tags.

      • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

        by siloko (1133863) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:57AM (#28649051)
        Well Blue Thunder was an ostensibly civilian undertaking which sort of suggests you agree with the quoted sentiment:

        The camera is an example of technology developed for and used by the military making a transition to civilian applications

        I disagree however. Once government's start using military surveillance techniques on it's citizenry they are no longer a civilian government's but precursors to a police state. And the guys excited about it . . . I'm not sure whether thats scary or disgusting!

        • by Jhon (241832)

          I disagree however. Once government's start using military surveillance techniques on it's citizenry they are no longer a civilian government's but precursors to a police state. And the guys excited about it . . . I'm not sure whether thats scary or disgusting!

          I disagree. Just because the military does something doesn't necessarily mean it's a precursor to a police state. We've had sky cams for years -- the only thing different is the quality of the camera.

          If something takes place in public, I don't thi

          • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:22AM (#28649425) Homepage Journal
            Well, let's see, so far citizens are unanimously in favor of:
            • Automated Speed Cameras
            • Red Light Cameras
            • Neighborhood Cameras (ala UK)
            • Cameras in the classrooms of elementary schools

            Well, sure, I'm guessing we'll all be embracing the next logical step in govt. surveillance!! The all seeing HD eye in the sky.

            Wait, did I forget my [sarcasm] tag??

            Sadly, there will be a decent number of people that will go for this. More and more these days a saying I heard awhile back is even more pertinent:

            What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces.

            • by Jhon (241832)

              Let's look at this:

              * Automated Speed Cameras
              How is this any violation?

              * Red Light Cameras
              How is this any violation?

              * Neighborhood Cameras (ala UK)
              How is this any violation? It's not really implemented en mass in the US... but I don't think there is any reason why it couldn't be.

              * Cameras in the classrooms of elementary schools
              I've not heard of this and I'd need to see details before I form a

          • by richlv (778496)

            so will the video feed be accessible for the public ? you know, so that corrupt politicians and cops can be spotted...

            • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

              by siloko (1133863) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:41AM (#28649721)
              I know you were joking but the awful truth is that when the politicians really are corrupt and they are bouncing off the walls in excitement over deploying military hardware against the electorate then neither they nor the Police are likely to be breaking any laws. Because they will be the law. Cue accusations of overblown paranoia . . . but the surveillance used now against private citizens isn't far away from that envisaged by Orwell . . .
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by michaelhood (667393)

            If something takes place in public, I don't think there's any violation of here. If they put a camera in the sky that can "see" through walls, or bounce lasers off our home windows to "hear" what's going on inside WITHOUT a warrant and trust me, I'll grab the pitchfork, you grab the torch.

            Yeah, I'm sure they'll close their eyes if they see something in your privacy fenced-in backyard.

    • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N3Roaster (888781) <nealw.acm@org> on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:44AM (#28648877) Homepage Journal

      The new fashion accessory that every criminal thug just has to have: an umbrella.

    • by furby076 (1461805)
      This is nothing new. Police helicopters + cameras have been around for decades. THis guy is excited because instead of analog (vhs) tapes which are grainy and don't do well when trying to enlarge a picture they are not using digital technology which is easier to mainpulate.

      Privacy concerns from eyes in the sky were settled decades ago.
    • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) * on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:47PM (#28652323) Homepage Journal

      Our mayor (yes, I live in the AV) would indeed outlaw roofs if he could. This is the same guy who said that he would seize and kill law-abiding citizens' pets if doing so would discourage gang members from owning dogs.

      Think I'm making this up??
      http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/26/local/me-dogordinance26?pg=1 [latimes.com]
      ======
      "What happens when these gang members that you're trying to target move on to Dobermans or German shepherds? You going to restrict them too?" Listman asked the council.

      "If they move on to cats," Parris responded, "I'm going to take their cats."
      ======

      He's an ambulance chaser by profession, which means in his worldview, there is only one solution for every social ill: SOMEONE MUST PAY!!

      The man is a menace to the Constitution.

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:37AM (#28648775)
    Or how else is this thing going to circle the city constantly if they only have one?

    Seriously, though, the whole idea is wrong on so many levels it's not funny anymore. Privacy aside, couldn't they at least use a platform that's better suited to long-term surveillance, such as a small (drone-sized), unmanned airship?

    • by Akido37 (1473009) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:41AM (#28648837)
      It's like those cities with cameras everywhere, except some of the camera boxes don't even contain a camera.

      For the system to work, it doesn't actually have to record every crime. It only has to deter people from committing crimes out of fear that they MAY be recorded.

      That said, I think that constant surveillance will be the end of our republic.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        The problem with this is the same as the stretch of the Garden State Parkway that says "speed monitored by aircraft" - if you see aircraft in the sky, slow down.

        Otherwise, the road earns the nickname I've given it - Garden State Speedway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kheldan (1460303)
        "Fear" being the operative word in all these conversations. We're becoming a world ruled by fear, and it's BULLSHIT.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cmdrkynes (1582503)
      There is no way they can really afford to keep a small jet airplane in the air just circling for hours... That is thousands of dollars a day worth of fuel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mraudigy (1193551)
        The average Cessna plane consume between 5 to 9 gallons of fuel per hour. With an rough estimate fuel price of $5.25/gallon in the SW region, a "surveillance" plane that flys 24/7 would cost:

        $5.25 * 7 = $36.75/hr.
        $36.75 * 24 = $882/day.
        $882 * 365 = $321,930/year.

        As such...
        Cessna Surveillance Plan: $125,000
        1 year of fuel: $321,930
        Killing both privacy, the economy, and the budget is one fell swoop: Priceless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by furby076 (1461805)
      Privacy outside of a building is not constitutionally mandated. Walking on the street? Anyone can take pictures of you - media, gov't, private citizens and you have zero privacy claims. There is no expectation of privacy when you leave the protection of a building.

      There were some issues, in the past, with aerial photos of people in their backyard which had walls (and obviously no ceilings). I don't recall what the ruling was but I think it was ruled that if there is no roof there is no expectation of
      • by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:56AM (#28649029) Journal

        Privacy outside of a building is not constitutionally mandated. Walking on the street? Anyone can take pictures of you - media, gov't, private citizens and you have zero privacy claims. There is no expectation of privacy when you leave the protection of a building.

        But as soon as an individual points a camera at this aircraft, you can bet that police will be telling them they're not allowed to do it, that they must delete the photos, or arresting them on some terrorism charge (at least, that's what would happen in the UK).

        It's as if objects, buildings and so on have more of an expectation of privacy than individuals do...

        • by furby076 (1461805) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:22AM (#28649423) Homepage

          But as soon as an individual points a camera at this aircraft, you can bet that police will be telling them they're not allowed to do it, that they must delete the photos, or arresting them on some terrorism charge (at least, that's what would happen in the UK). It's as if objects, buildings and so on have more of an expectation of privacy than individuals do...

          Not sure why your post would be marked insightful since it is pure speculation. There are valid concerns with top secret items and the gov't not wanting you to take pictures of them. For example if the gov't came out with a new plane that had some new, awesome and secret technology it makes sense they don't want you taking a picture of it. This technology is nothing new...it's been featured in games, tv shows, and hell is just a combination of technology that's been around for decades with some relatively new technology (HD TV).

          Feel free to take all the pictures you want of this aircraft...once the military sells something to civies it loses it's top secret status.

          BTW this technology amounts to an RC airplane + HD cam corder + a transmitter of the cam corder. I'd imagine someone here on /. could make said device...it may not be as good as what these cops will have - then again they have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on professional gear - but it will do the same thing.

      • Outside of a building or outside your property?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Privacy aside, couldn't they at least use a platform that's better suited to long-term surveillance, such as a small (drone-sized), unmanned airship?

      From TFA ...

      At first, Rutan looked into deploying the camera on an unmanned aircraft to patrol the city's skies, but that proved to be too expensive and faced too many difficulties with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

      Using a conventional small plane "solves all kinds of problems," Rutan said. "It's a lot cheaper to have a pilot on board than a dron

    • Not to mention that its pretty much proven that surveillance equipment does not prevent crime. Look at all the black and white footage from security cameras you can find. When he mentions it would be stupid to commit a crime.... I have to wonder if he has any knowledge of the types of crimes this is supposed to prevent and the criminals that commit them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrVomact (726065)

        Not to mention that its pretty much proven that surveillance equipment does not prevent crime.

        Precisely. The first prerequisite for crime prevention is that the police actually give a rodent's posterior about protecting citizens, instead of getting themselves on TV and beating the PR drums. Heck, my car radio was stolen out of the parking lot where I work. My employer turned over the video—complete with clearly visible license plate of the truck these yahoos were riding in—and nothing has happe

    • The technology for this does not exist yet, but it will very soon. Look at the solar impulse [solarimpulse.com] aircraft, for example, that is going to attempt to fly around the world on solar power. It stores up electricity during the day so that it can fly through the night. Combine this thing with UAV technology and you have your 24/7 camera surveillance.

      Another solution that pop into my mind are balloons that are tethered to the ground.
  • welcome our new all seeing, all knowing skyball overlord and hope it resembles the comforting familiarity of "the walking eye"
  • And criminals... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radtea (464814) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:41AM (#28648841)

    ...never do anything stupid, so the Mayor pointing out "It would be stupid to commit a crime" is a really excellent example of how compelling the case is for using this sort of surveillance technology.

    If politicians and police were honest about this they'd be doing a controlled experiment on these deployments, putting out these systems in ways that varied both in space and time that allowed them to determine whether these things had any effect on quality of life amongst the citizens, which is the metric that matters.

    Instead, they are content to make stuff up, and the average person is so relentlessly anti-empirical that they have no idea what they are missing.

    • by WindowlessView (703773) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:49AM (#28648949)

      so the Mayor pointing out "It would be stupid to commit a crime"

      If this is true, then why are government officials so reluctant to have their own activities monitored? Why do law enforcement get so edgy about being filmed? Why are cameras not allowed in most court rooms? Why aren't public officials monitored all day long? It just stops crime, after all.

      • by nyctopterus (717502) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:10AM (#28649221) Homepage

        I get your point--especially about law enforcement, but you need to recognise than "government" isn't a monolith. Many government officials and employees don't want the crazy surveillance of other people either.

      • Re:And criminals... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:10AM (#28649241)

        If this is true, then why are government officials so reluctant to have their own activities monitored? Why do law enforcement get so edgy about being filmed? Why are cameras not allowed in most court rooms? Why aren't public officials monitored all day long? It just stops crime, after all.

        You bring up a very interesting point. What if the flying-camera-drone catches some police abuse on civilians, or some other egregious violation of human or civil rights? Do we, as civilians, have the right to request the footage of that incident at that time? After all OUR money paid for this plan, the pilot's salary, the camera, the fuel and everything else related to putting that object in the air. Does the FOIA [state.gov] cover this too?

        • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:14AM (#28649297)
          What if the flying-camera-drone catches some police abuse on civilians, or some other egregious violation of human or civil rights? Do we, as civilians, have the right to request the footage of that incident at that time?

          Oh, you certainly have all the right in the world to request the footage of the incident, which will do you a whole lot of good if the tape has been "misplaced" or just doesn't exist because the camera had a "glitch" just when it happened. *winkwink*

      • Why do law enforcement get so edgy about being filmed? Why are cameras not allowed in most court rooms? Why aren't public officials monitored all day long? It just stops crime, after all.

        its time to start a new movement.

        repeat after me:

        no more double standards!

        for each and every law, it must first be tested on public officials and those who are usually above the law. there must be no double-standard. if the citizenry is to be surveiled, the 'watchers' must first be. they must be first so we can see if th

      • by samcan (1349105)

        The thing is, privacy is something that's come to be expected by government officials. Look at the convention where they hashed out the Constitution, back in 1787. They ordered the meetings closed, and the windows locked, so that no one could see or hear what they were doing. The delegates were forbidden to leak details to the public. Remember this was also in Philadelphia, in the summer!

    • Politicians do this shit to look relevant. So that at re-election time they can go: "see, see. We are all better off because of what *I* did."

      Meanwhile cities can't even figure how to save money on the boring stuff. (printing double sided, prevent duplication of work, retuning wrongly ordered stuff to vendors, selling instead of trashing old assets...)

  • by RingDev (879105) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:43AM (#28648873) Homepage Journal

    The camera is an example of technology developed for and used by the military making a transition to civilian applications, Rutan said."

    When you have the Military controling civilian security, the civilians become the enemy. This would normally just be a gross overstepping of the government, but to use it as a "transition" for EASing military is just crazy. Things are different in the Military. The rules, norms and expectations are completely different. You can't just take an MP out of the fleet, give him a badge and a gun, and expect him to take a squad car around the block with out incident.

    -Rick

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When I was on guard duty in the Marine Corps, I was given the following instructions:

      If you see someone attempting a crime, or entering a secure area, you will give ONE and ONLY one order to halt.

      If the individual does not halt, you will fire one warning shot, directly at center of mass.

      If the warning shot does not cause the person to halt, you will fire at him until he halts.

      For unarmed posts, they told you to call a "react" if you saw anything out of the ordinary. What's a react, you say? When you call a

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      When you have the Military controling civilian security, the civilians become the enemy...You can't just take an MP out of the fleet, give him a badge and a gun, and expect him to take a squad car around the block with out incident.

      We've been militarizing ordinary police work for the past few decades, since the Reagan era [reason.com]. It's part of the general trend of the militarization of society pushed by authoritarian neoconservatives.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      You have an excellent point. Soldiers are trained, on purpose and by simple byproduct of the job, to think of things as us vs. them. You almost WANT things adversarial.

      Imagine yourself having to surveil a group of people... The very fact that you ARE surveiling them means they are bad...otherwise, why do it? (In your mind). How many months go by before you start hoping they do something bad? Wishing? Nit-picking reasons for action? Besides...they are the enemy, so the ends justify the means. This is basical

  • by funkatron (912521) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:43AM (#28648875)
    For a moment I thought I knew where that was. Are there any place names America didn't steal?
  • Worst idea ever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:45AM (#28648889)
    Criminals rarely think "Gee... I sure hope no one sees me do this!" they think "Gee... I sure hope I can get the hell away from the scene before a cop gets me.". Having something floating around would require several things to actually work:

    1. Someone to know the crime is happening and thus record it, send cops over, and prevent it.
    2. No blind spots(good luck on a roaming platform. Last I checked, buildings still are 3d and thus will cause blind spots.
    3. The criminals not to take the most basic of all precautions to hide there identity(sky masks aren't exactly hard to make or buy.).

    So, in conclusion, it looks like some dumb ass company built this device and decided to market it to whatever sucker they could find. World keeps on turning.

    • by TheCarp (96830) *

      > So, in conclusion, it looks like some dumb ass company built this device and decided to market it to whatever sucker
      > they could find. World keeps on turning.

      And, once again, the government are the suckers. There is little incentive for them not to be, it only costs them our money.

      I actually emailed the guy working on the "Ferret" the robot to sit in cargo containers and look for drugs/explosives etc.

      You know he never had considered the possibility that such a sensitive detector would have a lot of

  • Agreed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday July 10, 2009 @09:46AM (#28648909) Journal
    I wholeheartedly agree. On the condition that the loop includes a trip above the Mayor's house and that all video feeds are released to the public.
    • On the condition that the loop includes a trip above the Mayor's house and that all video feeds are released to the public.

      Even if it doesn't, I'm sure some concerned citizen(s) could implement some round-the-clock monitoring of him and his family. That way, he will "never know when he is being watched or followed. It would be stupid for him to have a mistress, for his kids to buy drugs, or for any member of his family to do anything that might offend [voting group X]'s sensibilities." It's for the protection of the public--which justifies anything nowadays, or so I hear--and people in power are in a unique position to defrau

    • because here in Atlanta when police protecting the mayor scanned the plates of a car visiting her son and found the car stolen the policeman doing got into trouble and the police were prevented from doing future scans.

  • This surely is big brother watching you.
    How do you know who is the "guard dog" watching ?
    Who is in power is surely willing to keep it and it will use all means available.
    Get ready to long shot videos or images of possibly "strange" situation being broadcastet to destroy a political opponent.
    (Hey, look, your candidate was walking on a notoriously gay road !!!! he was talking to a possible drug dealer !!!!)
    Of course any plausible reason for doing it will be seen as irrelevant.

    Talking about the bad guy, he jus

  • Well, well. (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm not really sure that this is a "transition of technology from military to civilian application" as much as it is a militarization of a historically civilian function. Sure, if you look at the org charts, police are not military, nor have they changed much; but if you look at hardware and tactics there does seem to be a trend. The enthusiasm for using SWAT teams in all sorts of crazy places, at considerable peril to those ostensibly being protected and served, random little podunk county sheriffs picking
    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      The enthusiasm for using SWAT teams in all sorts of crazy places,

      Yes. Let's put a paratrooper SWAT team on those planes, for all the crimes than the onboard armament can't handle.

  • This politician obviously doesn't get out much.
  • It's a city with a giant Southern Baptist college and a bunch of farmhands.
    Nothing happens there.
  • Solution: Move. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quangdog (1002624)
    When a company does something stupid or draconian, I take my business elsewhere.

    If the city I lived in started doing this, I'd move and take my tax revenue with me (paltry as it may be).

    Interesting sidenote: This morning on the way to work I heard on the radio that California is in even bigger financial trouble now: Banks are no longer honoring the state tax refund IOU's, student grants are no longer being paid, people on all sorts of state-run social welfare programs are no longer receiving the ass
    • Re:Solution: Move. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:29AM (#28649531) Homepage

      If the city I lived in started doing this, I'd move and take my tax revenue with me (paltry as it may be).

      Why don't we hear of more people fleeing the state in droves? I've never lived in CA, but if I did the decision to move would be a simple one.

      When you move out of your parent's basement, you'll find the world a bit less black and white and that Brave Words (while free and easy to make on the 'net) cost money and are sometimes hard to implement.

  • Yep...Lets monitor all 145,074 [wikipedia.org] of them at one time. Oh wait.

    Kinda funny that this concept was first described for a prison [wikipedia.org].

    Oh well. I sure hope that the residents enjoying paying their taxes for this, considering that a lot of the big banks in CA are not accepting CA IOU's [wsj.com] anymore.

  • Is crime so bad in Lancaster that people are willing to be monitored constantly? Do they really find the expense of operating such a system worthwhile? Is it a better use of funds than giving raises to teachers, improving roads, reducing sales tax, offering a college scholarship program, or any of the countless other good things that could be done with the money?

    Who makes sure this system is used responsibly, and not for the mayor to see what his wife does while he's at work, or to see how often his opponen

  • Big brother (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 7-Vodka (195504)

    You never know when you are being watched or followed. It would be stupid to commit a crime.

    When people in positions of authority start talking this way watch out because here comes big brother.

    Fuck, I'm dissapointed in this half-hearted scheme. Why don't you just skip to the endgame and implant every one of your citizens with mood-altering gps tracking chips that transmit constant video and sound feeds of whatever they're seeing and hearing? I'll put money on the table that when the technology for that exists, there will be people in power who want to do it and general public who won't fight i

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:09AM (#28649201)
    Criminals don't think "oooh here comes the crime fighting plane - I don't think I'll mug that little old lady "

    They either plan around it (unlikely) or commit impulsive acts when the opportunity arises. They also don't always commit their crimes out-doors, or in cloud-free weather. They also don't ever expect to get caught (if they did, that would be a deterrent - it isn't).. So while keeping a plane in the air (and presumably a control room staffed, to watch the spy cameras) and a mechanic on standby to refule it and maintain it, might sound like a good idea - and may even impress the voters the chances of it reducing crime are small.

    Luckily for the mayor, it's impossible to correlate one act of crime prevention with any movement in the crime statistics, so whatever happens (short of someone stealing the plane), he, she or it will be able to call the initiative a success.

    I do have a feeling though, that this plan was not exactly thought out. Any sale to a gullible official - who isn't spending their own cash yet comes out with statements like "I've never been so excited about anything" sounds like exuberance has got the better over common sense. I would expect that the money earmarked for this plan would be far better spent on orthodox police patrols: more officers, more man-hours and maybe even a few public awareness campaigns. Not as sexy, but far more effective.

  • by bazorg (911295) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:09AM (#28649213) Homepage
    It takes someone stupid to commit a crime? maybe someone with motivations that are hard to understand... Just yesterday on BBC3 we had interviews with 14-18 year old thugs who were really keen on their "street cred", their "reputation", the robbing and stabbing of other kids who ventured into their post code, and the appeal these activities have when looking for a girlfriend.

    Not one seemed so keen on going to school or on avoiding the police. Actually, going to prison was part of the networking with other thugs and the reputation building. So yes, there could be an investment of millions on cameras that can even see through the £5 hooded clothes but I don't think it will be much of a deterrent.

  • by HalAtWork (926717)
    "It would be stupid to commit a crime."

    It should already be stupid to commit a crime. This guy seems to think that criminals don't believe laws are logical and beneficial. If they are committing a crime, they have already decided they don't care about that. A lot of crimes ARE stupid and are committed without regard to logic or consequence. This guy seems to think criminals will suddenly start thinking twice.

    Look, you can't PREVENT crimes. Even if you have a camera, you'll only just be watching one
  • I guess the whole state isn't on the verge of bankruptcy. Or do they think they can reduce the size of their police force enough to make up the difference?
  • If it could reduce the number of cops running around with attitudes. In general our police forces have become way too big, and bored cops develope attitudes. Of course this likely won't happen and our taxes will go up to support this.
  • I want to know what it is about cities named Lancaster that leads them to think that monitoring everyone's activities is a good idea? A couple of weeks ago we had a story about Lancaster, Pa having the most cameras per capita monitoring for crime and now we have Lancaster, Ca putting an eye in the sky.
  • by rs232 (849320) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:15AM (#28649333)
    "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment [george-orwell.org]. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized"
  • fallout (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870)

    If the video feed was open to the public, it wouldn't be long before there would be clips of the mayor's butt crack showing up on youtube, as he bent over to work in his garden, or the city council folks walking their dogs and letting them take a dump on neighbor's lawns, or local fatcat businessmen passed out drunk in their back yards, all the local cop cars on patrol making illegal left turns at stoplights, etc.

    The spy in the sky program would end pronto then.

  • So now what I do in my lawn is not considered privacy anymore? Great.
    Even though I disagree with people who say "If you are in public, people should be able to film you at all times." I understand their point.

    Now a camera pointing down will be able to see what I am doing in my back garden that has a very high fence around it. What if the camera films at an angle?

    Well, at least people are innocent until proven guilty, but it is best to do your hardest to prove them guilty.

    • by furby076 (1461805)

      So now what I do in my lawn is not considered privacy anymore? Great.

      THis issue has been discussed for years now, and there were court cases about it a few decades ago (helicopter + camera). I may be wrong but I believe the courts ruled that your backyard (even if it has wooden fences) does not enjoy privacy protection from top view cameras, but your home skylight roof does enjoy protection. I may be wrong since i am going from memory of a long time ago.

    • Re:Privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:32AM (#28649583)

      Well, at least people are innocent until proven guilty, but it is best to do your hardest to prove them guilty.

      Here's part of the problem. We should be innocent unless proven guilty, not until proven guilty.

      This fallacy presumes that we're all guilty, and it's just a matter of time until someone catches us. We need to stop referring to it as such.

      • We are not consumers, we are customers
      • We are not innocent until proven guilty, we are innocent unless proven guilty
      • Just because I have nothing to hide, does not mean you have a right to look.

      This whole country is being turned upside-down by very subtle, un-noticed changes in our vernacular. We need to stop that.

  • ... in buildings, bridges, garage's and so forth, I can see criminals using underground tunnels/sewers/access points more often, and wealthy criminals creating such tunnel networks.

  • Crowbar (Score:3, Funny)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:53AM (#28649903)

    As demonstrated by one Gordon Freeman as he fled City 21 during the unrest in the early 2000s, these surveillance drones are particularly susceptible to blunt force attacks. Alternatively, subway tunnels and fast waterborne craft also make it difficult for the drones to follow and/or record.

    If people stopped acting all crazy, this sort of thing wouldn't be suggested in the first place. As usual, it's the group of kids in the corner of the playground who ruin it for the rest of us.

  • by aquatone282 (905179) on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:40AM (#28650627)

    I was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base from 2001 - 2003. After the burgs of Rosamond, Mojave and the tragic-comedy of California City, Lancaster-Palmdale was the closest form of civilization to the base - just a 35-mile drive from the back gate!

    While there I formed the theory that Lancaster was used as a checkpoint during the Okie migration of the Great Depression (see "The Grapes of Wrath" for further details). If you were halfway decent-looking, you were allowed to cross the San Gabriel mountains. If you were a freak of nature, you stayed in Lancaster.

    Seriously - I never saw so many ugly people in one place in my life.

  • by gaspyy (514539) on Friday July 10, 2009 @12:10PM (#28651091)

    I am the eye in the sky
    Looking at you
    I can read your mind
    I am the maker of rules
    Dealing with fools
    I can cheat you blind
    And I don't need to see any more
    To know that
    I can read your mind.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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