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Atlanta's Growing Video Surveillance System 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the since-it-worked-so-well-in-london dept.
McGruber writes "An Atlanta newspaper reports on the city's 'Video Integration Center,' which allows Atlanta's Police Department to control more than 100 public and private cameras. 'Officials say hundreds or thousands more private-sector cameras will eventually feed into the center.' According to the Atlanta Police Foundation, 'This is going to grow by leaps and bounds over the years. The goal, of course, is to have the entire city blanketed [with cameras].'"
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Atlanta's Growing Video Surveillance System

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  • I'm surprised surveillance networks like this aren't huge vandalism targets. Simple approaches come to mind, such as air rifles or paintball guns.

    It seems like such a network would be easy to keep pretty much offline as it takes less time, effort, and expense to disable a camera than it takes to repair it.

    • It's my understanding, that in places like the UK, vandals set a tire alight and throw it over the camera.
      • by ScottyLad (44798)

        It's my understanding, that in places like the UK, vandals set a tire alight and throw it over the camera.

        You're probably thinking of roadside speed cameras, which are almost universally unpopular, and often vandalised using a car tyre and some petrol (gasoline). The City centre operator-controlled cameras tend to be 30 or 40 feet off the ground and have a greater level of public support.

        I believe the UK has amongst the highest concentration of cameras anywhere, but to be honest the vast majority of them are unmonitored and only inspected when retrospective evidence is required - with most images only retain

        • by Aryden (1872756)
          So far, they haven't decreased the crime rate even a single %. I'll be more interested to see what happens when the first case, whose evidence is the camera feeds, makes it to the state supreme court. Last year, the court declared certain uses of the traffic cameras at stop lights unconstitutional.

          Honestly, there are only certain areas that would even need the surveillance, and it wouldn't need that if the cop weren't busy harassing prostitutes for blowjobs.
          • by Gordonjcp (186804)

            So far, they haven't decreased the crime rate even a single %

            I know that in Edinburgh the CCTV cameras in conjuction with the Shopwatch systems (all the shops have a radio link back to the CCTV control centre, which in turn can contact the police if the "mall cop" types can't get the job done) has a pretty damn near 100% success rate at getting shoplifters and other "petty criminals" caught.

            Sad to say, the conviction rate is almost zero, because in the face of overwhelming evidence against the accused, the courts just issue a small fine which they have no expectation

            • by Aryden (1872756)
              That's not here in Atlanta... That's in Edinburgh.
            • by Builder (103701)

              I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that there are very few convictions ? If that is the case, then the scheme is worthless.

              Or are you saying that after being convicted, people are fined instead of given a custodial sentence? Because in that case, the camera system is working but the judiciary are letting the people down.

          • by richlv (778496)

            i'm also somewhat suspecting that in cases of police violence or other offenses the camera recordings... mysteriously would be lost. or camera would turn out not to be recording. or something.

        • by Fnord666 (889225)
          See also this site [speedcam.co.uk] for some good pics of vandalized speed cameras in the UK.
    • Re:Camera Vandalism? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:49PM (#37448418)
      A super Soaker filled with cooking oil will render it unviewable for more then 5 feet. But I am sure that falls under domestic terrorism in most of the "Free" world.
      • Re:Camera Vandalism? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mars Saxman (1745) on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:49PM (#37449410) Homepage

        A friend of mine used to mix a 50% solution of elmer's glue and water in a spray bottle for a similar effect.

        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          Seems like Elmer's glue would wash off the next time it rains. But then maybe many of these cameras have a rain shield (keeping them functional in inclement weather, but preventing self cleaning). Cooking oil would probably resist the weather a bit better.

          I wonder if an epoxy solution would be effective (though it'd require two devices). Epoxy paintballs could be mixed together in a single device and could be a lot more damaging than many of the other means.

    • by foobsr (693224)

      I'm surprised surveillance networks like this aren't huge vandalism targets.

      Probably an EMP would count as large scale vandalism and also would add a new flavour to "nuke 'em".

      CC.

    • Michael Weston (Burn Notice) one used a bundle of laser pointers to burn out surveillance cameras. I suspect that would probably work very nicely in real life, too.
      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        Or you could buy a single higher-powered infrared laser. Wouldn't recommend a visible spectrum laser (although something in the 35mW range might work) because they could also blind you, given the reflection. The camera might have an infrared filter that could negate the effectiveness, IDK. Not that it would matter with a, say, 200+mW infrared (it would just burn through a filter). I'm not sure a bundle would work very well (the total energy is spread out more, not concentrated on the sensor.) It'd certainly
        • by Shatrat (855151)

          Wouldn't recommend a visible spectrum laser (although something in the 35mW range might work) because they could also blind you

          Infrared is as dangerous or more than visible light. With an infrared laser you don't know to blink until it's too late.

          • by Baloroth (2370816)

            You know, for some reason I assumed IR reflections (i.e. the beam scattering off a surface, which can be dangerous even in a 200mW laser) would be less dangerous than the reflections from a visible-spectrum laser (of course the beam directly into the eyes will still blind), but come to think of it I don't really know and can't find anything with a quick Google search (most sites seem to be explaining the danger of improperly filtered beams letting out more IR intense light and not prompting as much of a bli

            • by Shatrat (855151)
              Longer wavelength light would tend to reflect less and be absorbed more, for relatively useless values of 'more' in this case.
              All telecom lasers are infrared, from 850 to 1610 nanometers wavelength and the long haul stuff is definitely dangerous.
              Some optical amplifiers can put out 200mw+ 1550 nm light.
              Even the low powered stuff I wouldn't point at my face.
        • Infrared will blind you just as effectively as visible light lasers, and with visible light you can see the colored dot that tells you where you pointed it. If you can't aim at targets, you can't tell that you're hitting a target you weren't aiming at, and at least somebody who has a red dot show up on his chest knows to evade whoever's doing it.

          I agree with you that bundles sound unlikely to be useful.

      • I could be wrong, but I don't think the actual application of laser pointers to cameras does any burning out of the hardware.
        As for Burn Notice, with many of their stunts leaving out crucial middle steps or over-exaggerating the effects, I think a more likely true usage of bundled lasers would be through the utilization of multiple colors (red, green, blue) to prevent analysis/countermeasures that apply color specific filters. (like using red to still figure out that was M. Westin in the corner using a bu
        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          There are some very high powered handheld lasers out there. Strong enough to start a fire. They are very dangerous because even a momentary hit to an eye can cause permanent damage, and many are illegal for sale in the US. 1w is the highest power you can legally own in the US for personal reasons, but even this will cause permanent blindness even from a reflected beam, and is powerful enough to light matches and burn through plastic. More powerful lasers are out there and not that hard to acquire.

    • Re:Camera Vandalism? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) * <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:04PM (#37448686) Homepage Journal
      A few years ago I ran into a guy from Arizona and he was telling me how they put post-it notes on the traffic cameras [thenewspaper.com]. It actually went to court and a judge decided that the post-it notes were not vandalism.
    • Yet another use for Great Stuff expanding foam. Also good for sirens and tailpipes.
    • by pnutjam (523990)
      Nobody notices them for the most part. They are all over the city I work at. Alot of the new traffic lights use cameras to change from red to green instead of induction loops. The city has tapped into these as well as deploying their own cameras all over the place.
  • by DanTheStone (1212500) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:32PM (#37448140)
    And since the cameras are technically privately-owned, there's no need to worry about a warrant!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      In cases where the government argues that the 4th Amendment exclusionary rule does not apply because the search was conducted by a private party, the government loses if it can be demonstrated that the private party was a de facto government agent, or acting at the behest of a government agent. Surely it would be the same with cameras?
      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        It's a public area, privacy in a public area is not reasonably expected (OP is flamebait). Not to say the cameras are good or even perfectly legal, just that this isn't a "search" that would require a warrant.
        • by adolf (21054)

          If an officer knocks on my door and asks "Do you mind if we have a look around?" and I say "No problem. Get to it," there's no warrant required, since they've got my permission.

          Similarly, with a camera: If an officer knocks on my door and asks "Do you mind if we tie into your camera system," and I say "go ahead," then there is also no warrant necessary: I've given them consent.

          More to the point, I don't even think it's a public-vs-private sort of thing. If I've got cameras installed at my own home or bu

          • by Baloroth (2370816)
            Exactly. One of the problems with the police system is that so many people don't even realize what their rights are. They assume, for instance, that if a cop asks to search their car, they have to let them. In fact they don't and you can (and probably should) tell them "No." Since so many people just go ahead and let them, it looks suspicious if you say no, and then they try to find something to book you with (with so many laws on the books, it is generally possible to find something that a person is doing
  • by rocker_wannabe (673157) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:36PM (#37448218)

    I guess that eventually one half of the population will be watching the other half....Actually, if you include YouTube, that might already be true.

    "Excuse me sir. What do you do for a living?"

    "I'm a professional voyeur!"

    • by Beorytis (1014777)

      I guess that eventually one half of the population will be watching the other half...

      Or one half of each person will be watching the other half. Read A Scanner Darkly [wikipedia.org] . There was a movie too, but I haven't seen it.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        I guess that eventually one half of the population will be watching the other half...

        Or one half of each person will be watching the other half. Read A Scanner Darkly [wikipedia.org] . There was a movie too, but I haven't seen it.

        Well, half of you hasn't seen it, at any rate...

    • by dbc (135354)

      That will never work. Too much overtime. It will burn people out. You have to have 3 shifts, and some week-end part-time shift work, or maybe 4 shifts on rotation. So, seems the me the best you could achieve is to have one fourth the population watching the three fourths that are off-duty.

    • Yep, and it was called the Stasi in Eastern Germany!

  • by backslashdot (95548) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:44PM (#37448342)

    However, they must not be used to prosecute or investigate any crime or attempted crime other than serious assault, murder, and rape.
    It should not be used to fine people for littering or even peeing.

    • by sheepofblue (1106227) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:52PM (#37448470)

      However, they must not be used to prosecute or investigate any crime or attempted crime other than serious assault, murder, and rape.
      It should not be used to fine people for littering or even peeing.

      Yet it WILL be used for that and a ton of other things. Self control and self regulation is not something the government does even moderately well.

      • Even worse, because the assaults, murders and rapes don't happen all to often in front of those cameras (and when the people know about the cameras, they will move to other locations), a justification for continued use and the associated costs will be demanded.
        So they will simply broaden their mission and include petty things, but will hype them. Thus every small thing is bloated to an act of public danger.

        Yet since the criminals have moved on to different locations, it will simply be a misleading TPM repor

        • More likely, any time a crime has occurred with no suspects, the first order of business for the police will be to round up everyone the cameras could identify from the area. They will be treated as suspects rather than potential witnesses.

          Also, expect to see troling operations: "We don't have any reports of a crime happening, but we see this guy walking through the area a lot, and don't know why." - so the police will pry into people's private lives, just out of curiousity. Keeping track of your habits c

    • We need a constitutional amendment that says this. I'd be happy with something like, police can watch the last 7 days and prosecute anything they want, but need a warrant for anything before that, and if they don't find that they want, they can't use what they do see to get another warrant or otherwise in court. We would also need something like releasing these videos is a felony and they should all have a watermark on them for the viewer (presumably laced into the image, not just in the lower right).

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      Yay, the worst of both worlds: no privacy and no law enforcement.

    • by sjames (1099)

      They will probably be used opposite. The major crimes entail a lot of paperwork and having to get dressed up for court. No money for overtime. The lesser crimes are a quick form to fill out, a bit of money comes in for the department and your quota gets met.

  • by metalgamer84 (1916754) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:50PM (#37448428)
    It blows my mind that people think this is a good thing. Why are people so damn eager to give up freedoms, liberties and privacies? Why do people want to live under constant surveillance? Why are people so eager to be cattle led to slaughter? FFS, crap like this should be causing outrage and riots. Instead people are complacent and eager for it.
    • by MacTO (1161105) on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:05PM (#37448698)

      Extremism doesn't help here.

      Standing up for privacy where there is a reasonable expectation for privacy is entirely reasonable. People expect privacy in their homes. People expect their personal correspondence to be private (e.g. phone calls, letter mail, email). The same goes for things they stuff in their bags or cram onto their computers because whatever is inside forms a sort of private space. We see those boundaries to privacy being violated all of the time, and I think that most people would be supportive of protecting privacy in those spaces.

      But the moment that you start screaming about privacy in places where there isn't a reasonable expectation for it, a lot of people just tune out. They will either assume that you are an antisocial nutbar, a paranoid nutcase, or a criminal. Streets, parks, transit, and businesses are places where you don't have a reasonable expectation for privacy because you are interacting or intermingling with other people. Most people recognize that, and behave accordingly.

      So if you want to do everyone a favour, argue for privacy but do so on reasonable grounds. The moment you adopt an extremist position, you are fighting the battle for the other side because you will lose legitimacy in the eyes of the people who you are trying to persuade.

      • There is a big difference between, you are in public nothing you do is private and you are in public you are under constant surveillance and the government can know where you are at any given time if it so desires.

      • Yes,
        But he has a point. As is often noted here, everyone is a criminal if only for the sheer number of laws and a basic inability to track all of them. I forget where, but it is illegal to chew gum on Sundays (some township in Georga, IIRC). Cameras everywhere is open to being used as a dragnet, which while not strictly violating the 4th amendment, certainly violates the spirit as written by the founding fathers. The fastest recording media for images was a hand drawn sketch, which took minutes,

      • In the pre-surveillance society you might not have had an expectation of privacy in public areas but you also knew the odds were against being observed by authorities. It was a situation of balance in which people generally had a moderate amount of de facto privacy.

        Now we are talking about a situation where there will be zero chance of privacy because any place not specifically denoted as "private" will be 100% monitored.

        I think the two situations are significantly different and so I do not consider pe
    • by imric (6240)

      Atlanta needs this to fight against Obama and his Socialist Army who are Destroying Business by supporting Corporations in a Secret Islamic Kenyan Plan devised by Fundamentalist Christian Preachers and carried out by ACORN. Why, without heavy surveillance, Yankees might invade, with their cynical insistence on PAYING for Government Services via TAXES imposed by FORCE, instead of the Patriotic Ideal of paying for debts by using funds Dedicated to those non-productive sick and retired citizens looking for th

    • by rajafarian (49150)

      The argument is that of the balance between freedom and security, and that argument goes back a long way. When Moses (I don't really believe in the Bible, but I like to use this as an illustration) freed his peeps from slavery some of them wanted to go back. Obviously they would rather have security rather than freedom.

      People high in government know this and they are very willing to promise us security in exchange for our freedoms. Erich Fromm wrote something about it in Escape from Freedom. People want

    • by Builder (103701)

      If you really want to see how eager people are to give up their freedoms, have a look at this link on a bike forum:

      http://londonbikers.com/forums/871716/the-intruder-killed-in-manchester [londonbikers.com]

      Regular people there are arguing that it is the right thing to do to keep DNA of innocent people on file forever if they are arrested (not charged).

      They're arguing that you should always arrest someone who acts in self defence just to be sure that they really were defending themselves and not a murder.

      They're arguing that be

  • This is being construed as a job creator in the local news, actually, along with "making the streets safer". Brilliant. Amazing how repetitive the rhetoric of newscasters is when you actually listen instead of using it as background noise.

    • by Aryden (1872756)
      Oh don't forget, the news chick here said that the London riots were caused by the police beating an "African American" man.... Yes, they are just that stupid.
  • by vinn01 (178295) on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:09PM (#37448768)

    "The city links the 1,500 cameras that police have placed in trouble spots with thousands more... Even home owners can contribute camera feeds....
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704538404574539910412824756.html [wsj.com]

    If you link your camera to the city "highly trained crime surveillance specialists will have access" ...
    http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem/provdrs/tech/svcs/link_your_cameras.html [cityofchicago.org]

    IBM press release about it's Chicago's video analysis software that "detects suspicious activity and potential public safety concerns " ...
    http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/22385.wss [ibm.com]

    • Just look at the UK, who has the MOST cameras (at least last time the numbers were posted) in the WORLD. Yet did it stop the terrorist attacks? What about the mob?
      No, it just tracks people getting $hitfaced and making out in back alleys.

  • Notice that people want crime stopped but will whine when they are the ones who might be caught. Think of not having to worry about your home or car being ruined, burgled, or tampered with. Think of schools being able to determine who threw the punch.
    If there is a legitimate gripe it rests in the types of crimes that poor people commit falling to electronic detection while the crimes that the rich commit

    • If there is a legitimate gripe it rests in the types of crimes that poor people commit falling to electronic detection while the crimes that the rich commit will usually not be detectable on film or in public areas. The rich man can still cheat on his taxes or alter his books for his business. What we may create is wealth being like a permit to commit crimes.

      So, this must be that "class warfare" that the Republicans are all hotted up about.

    • not having to worry about your home or car being ruined, burgled, or tampered with

      More like that possessions will be damaged through accident or disaster. The only sane people worrying are insurance underwriters.

    • The police don't have enough evidence to get you for one crime you allegedly committed, but it turns out you violated one of the thousands of "petty" laws in existence that they normally wouldn't go to such great lengths to enforce. Looks like an excuse!

  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:23PM (#37448972)
    So if private feeds are coming in, what's to prevent a malicious private party from staging anything from a robbery to a murder and editing the footage to implicate their choice of targets and splicing said footage into the feed?

    Other than tampering with evidence (and the actual crime), I doubt it would even be illegal since they own the feed.
    • by BitterOak (537666)

      So if private feeds are coming in, what's to prevent a malicious private party from staging anything from a robbery to a murder and editing the footage to implicate their choice of targets and splicing said footage into the feed? Other than tampering with evidence (and the actual crime), I doubt it would even be illegal since they own the feed.

      Why don't I just kill the person I don't like. Other than the murder, it wouldn't even be a crime!

      • Try reading what you quoted before you post...

        My point is that tampering with the feed wouldn't be illegal since you own it, but the cops could, and likely would, use it for evidence in the event that it caught a crime. How are they to know whether the footage is legitimate or has been tampered with? Would they even question its legitimacy?
        • by StikyPad (445176)

          "tampering with the feed wouldn't be illegal since you own it"

          Interfering with a police investigation is always a crime, and since you willfully provided the false feed, it could be argued that you provided false information. There are plenty of other catchalls as well.

        • by exploder (196936)

          This is the dumbest thing I've read on Slashdot all day. Making a false statement is a crime. Slander and libel are crimes. Perjury is a crime. There are all sorts of crimes you can commit basically by lying, and nobody (most relevantly, the court) gives a rat's ass whether you own the means of communicating the lie.

          • Slander and Libel aren't crimes. They're Torts.

            • by exploder (196936)

              Ouch, in calling out someone's ignorance I revealed my own. Thanks for the heads up. But my point stands, mutatis mutandis (clearly I learned that term studying math, not law!).

  • All of which somehow manage to avoid taping an officer of the law performing his duties. Funny how that works, isn't it?
  • if this is such a great idea then they should have cops wear cameras that boardcast to a repository they cannot tamper with and the public can request video of for court cases and other uses. I mean, there is no reason a cop would object to this as a public servant right?

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

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