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Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting 172

theodp writes "Newark Mayor Cory Booker is betting that cutting-edge technology will reduce crime and spark an economic renaissance. From a newly opened Surveillance Operations Center, cops armed with joystick controllers monitor live video feeds from more than 100 donated cameras scattered across the crime-ridden city. The moves are drawing kudos from businesses like Amazon subsidiary Audible.com, which has moved its HQ to downtown Newark, where space is 50% cheaper than in Manhattan. But are citizens giving up too much privacy?"
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Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting

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  • by MathFox ( 686808 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @06:47AM (#24828823)
    As far as I know serious research on the effectiveness of the UK cameras showed (at best) a hardly measurable impact on crime.
    Cameras can extend the eyes of the police force, but they do not provide more hands on the street. For and effective use of cameras you need communication with your officers on the street to direct them to the scene (and hope they arrive in time). Cameras are very good in recording crime and can help in catching criminals; some say that arresting suspects raises the registered crime rate, because 60% of petty crime goes unreported.

    I see more in streamlining the administration, so that police officers spend less time in the office typing reports on (stone age) computers, and can spend more time patrolling on the streets.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:00AM (#24828905) Homepage Journal

    I can confirm these cameras DO NOT prevent crime. I have a drug house in front of mine. Lots of vandalism, theft, noise, and hooliganism. So I got a top of the line $2500 PTZ network camera. Here's my little story:

    The camera did what I wanted it to do. It takes clear snapshots of the fistfulls of cash, the hits from the water bongs, and where they hide the goods. Great pictures. Gave them to the police. That was months ago. Drug house still going strong. Recently, the camera caught the guy returning from a bad hit and run accident and tried to hide his car in the back yard. The guy is still running around. If I bought the camera to watch a bunch of thugs, its working. To reduce crime, haha. They know the camera is here and wave their middle finger at it.

    Here's my Axis network cam if you want to play with it:

    http://www.dattaway.net/ [dattaway.net]

    There's links at the bottom of the camera page for some of the pictures I saved as the drama continues...

  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:03AM (#24828921) Journal
    Screw your privacy. This is great. It should be accessible to the public at all times. This is a way to watch the cops and the politicians, not the other way around.
  • by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:35AM (#24829107)

    Not really, its detoured the passive "weekend" criminals, but its made the other ones even more skilled at what they do, survival of the fittest.

    And the main reason for not having them outside the "business" is because as a customer, you have a choice to enter the property that a business is located, but you are forced to travel the streets to get from point A to B, and B might not be this paranoid business with cameras.

    If my business was to take a firehose to everyone who entered my store, does that mean it gives me the right to hose down anyone who walks within reach of my firehose? After all, a firehose can be used to stop crime, and fires, or water plants... they should be everywhere! You're a terrorist if you refuse to get hosed.

  • by geniice ( 1336589 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:03AM (#24829251)
    Bollocks. Under UK law you have a number citizen's arrest powers which allow you to use reasonable force to detain suspects. The problems kick in when people start to lie about their motives and what they did and when the use of force becomes seriously excessive. Guns are not really an issues there was never much of a gun ownership culture in the UK anyway. Various surveys have shown that when people are asked what the penalty should be for various crimes they tend to chose below the current average court penalty.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:48AM (#24829541)

    >Anyway, I got a call back a couple of days later, asking if I could be any more specific about when it happened (I'd been on an 8 hour shift), as unless I could tell them the exact time my bike was stolen, they weren't going to bother checking the CCTV . . .

    That's because they have still analog cameras or shitty software. With real surveillance apps you should be able to select a rectangle with the bike's frame and fast forward until it changes more than a certain percentage. (bike no longer there but ignoring people running behind or before)

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:45AM (#24829919)

    There is precious little evidence that CCTV actually helps in fighting crime overall. Privacy International's FAQ [privacyinternational.org] has a few comments and sources.

    Anecdotally, I can tell you that despite high profile CCTV being installed here in Cambridge (hardly the crime capital of the UK), it did not help a woman I personally saw being seriously assaulted: there was no coverage in the alley where it happened, so the police came only when I called them. Nor did it help when a substantial sum of money was stolen from a community group's storage at a local church hall: despite reporting the incident within 24 hours and knowing within a fairly small window when it must have happened, there was no evidence that the police even looked at the CCTV camera footage covering the only main road access to the premises. Nor did it help on either of the two occasions when I have been called on to give serious first aid in recent years, despite both areas being covered by CCTV cameras and the casualty obviously being hurt each time. It doesn't even seem to help with traffic, where there are cameras overlooking busy road junctions that get clogged up for everyone when a few selfish drivers don't follow the rules.

    They did have a good story in the local press about cameras mounted on buildings on one of the main shopping streets being turned to look into students' bedroom windows on the opposite side of the street a little while back, though.

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