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A Surveillance Camera On Every Chicago Street Corner? 311

Mike writes "Chicago Mayor Daley has stated that if his Olympic dreams come true, by 2016 there will be a surveillance camera on 'every street corner in Chicago.' Just like in London, elected officials all over America appear to be happily advancing a 'surveillance society' without regard for civil rights or privacy concerns. Ray Orozco, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications is quoted as saying, 'We're going to grow the system until we eventually cover one end of the city to the other.'" Chicago has been developing its surveillance network for some time, but it seems they plan to continue increasing the scale.
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A Surveillance Camera On Every Chicago Street Corner?

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  • by HEbGb ( 6544 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:23AM (#26940247)

    There is not a CCTV camera on every street in London.

    But, who am I to burst your hyperbole bubble.

    London has the highest density of CCTV cameras of any city in the world, and it's ridiculous overkill. Technically they may not be on EVERY street, but damn near close.

    But more importantly, it's been shown as completely ineffective. Chicago is going to make the same mistake. Security theater..

  • by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:55AM (#26940383) Homepage

    CCTV does not prevent crime. It helps to presecute those who commit it, taking them off the streets.

    I think the point was that if crime is still high then crime evidently hasn't been taken off the street.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:56AM (#26940389) Homepage

    As long as the system is open. Problem with digital evidence collected on such a wide basis, is the external view of you day can be selectively edited to present what ever they want to present and any information that may work in your defence is not made available. Where many elected officials are involved in the legal system and the pressure is on them to get convictions, whether the individuals involved are guilty or innocent, be very careful about how much additional power you give them.

    If politician and law enforcement are so hot on surveillance lets start with them first. What would be wrong with a web cam in every politician's office monitoring their actions and accessible by the general public, after all they are meant to be working for the public so the public should be able to supervise them. The benefits of dash cam in police vehicles has been demonstrated, (although some thugs in uniform seem to develop a mental block and forget their actions are being recorded), so the system should be extended to a cap/hat/helmet cam, perhaps with a camera mounted to their head, they wont forget it is there and will adjust their behaviour accordingly.

    You know the saying, who watches they watchers, everybody else. So before they start trying to surveil the public 24/7/365, let's test the system out on them first.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:00AM (#26940423) Journal

    It's OK. Here in Chicago, the surveillance cameras will be coin-op. You can pay your bribe up front, saving on manpower.

    I'll say one thing for this idea: at least cctv cameras can't torture suspects*

    (* for the full story. google "Chicago Police Torture".)

  • by n0-0p ( 325773 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:21AM (#26940497)

    The primary purpose of the cameras is not for detection of crimes. It's to help investigate and prosecute reported crimes. For example, over the last several months there have been three women raped on their walk home from the el stop that my wife and I use. The victim accounts support the position that it's one guy, and the police have some grainy footage of him from a few security cameras, but they can't make out his face or figure out who he is.

    Were this system in place, the job of catching the guy is likely to be a lot easier. I know that would make my wife and I feel a lot better about her safety. And personally, I don't see a problem with cameras in public places where you never had a reasonable expectation of privacy anyway. If they were invading my privacy I'd be the first to protest, but you can't claim to have privacy on a street corner.

  • by cyberguyd ( 50420 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:16AM (#26940851)

    It's not that people don't have the opportunity. You have to change the culture. For those in the 'hood, if you study, do your homework, work hard, etc., you are trying to be "white". Most want to be a rapper or ball player. The role models that they had until this time is Jesse and Al who continue to preach that they are being put down. Even though I may not agree with everything that Obama is doing, more role models like him are needed.

    On a note about surveillance, I am a civil engineer and every city and state building now you have to sign in, show ID, and/or go through a metal detector now. They do it slow, one building at a time. They put up "red light" and intersection cameras which may only have a limited resolution now, but all it would take is quiet change during the nights and then you have system in place. They need the backbone in place. Doing it in the name of public safety is the way they do it.

  • by FridgeFreezer ( 1352537 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:35AM (#26940965)
    I also live in a small UK town with lots of CCTV cameras. However, I have worked on those cameras and in control rooms and have seen how they do work and can work, if they're allowed to.

    Sure, if no-one's watching (or there aren't enough people to watch effectively) then they're useless. If the video is so bad you can't see what's going on, they're useless.

    BUT when the CCTV guys have a direct radio link to the police (and even better, local businesses too), when they have the staff to watch the cameras and catch people committing crime on video which conclusively shows them doing it, then the criminals are f**ed. The best lawyer in the world can't get you off when the police have video of you committing the crime. It also means the police don't even have to catch you doing it - they can walk past you an hour later in the street and slap the cuffs on before you know what's going on.

    I would be wary of saying I'm pro-cctv, but with an effective police organisation behind it it's a very effective tool in the fight.

    Case in point: The control guys spotted a gang of kids going into a shop, so they radio the shop security and tell them to stand back and just watch. Shop security backs off and watches them stealing stuff. CCTV tracks them out of that shop and into the next, same deal, kids are now getting well pleased with their haul, repeat for a few more shops then off to the bus station to catch the bus home with all their swag. As the bus pulls up, cops stroll out from three different directions and grab them, and all their gear, before they've even realised. No running, no chasing, no throwing the stash away, no arguing. In court, on video, case closed.

    London's cameras have a good deal going on with car number plate recognition software, as soon as you drive a stolen/dodgy car into London it's just ticking down the minutes till a police car happens to appear from a side street and pull you over for a chat. No high-speed pursuit required.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:46AM (#26941049)

    The correct use of those cameras is to wire them up to the Internet, and make it so that ANY concerned citizen can monitor the cameras in a Web browser, or perhaps a dedicated app. Leave it up to concerned citizens watching a camera to call the police and report what they have observed. Best of all, give them a tool - Firefox extension? - that lets them record what they're viewing, so they have some form of evidence to give police, not just hearsay.

    In the United States we have Neighborhood Watch groups, many of which would no doubt find cameras on every street invaluable: they could sit home warm in their jammies and still help keep their neighborhood safe, instead of being out roaming the streets in the harsh cold with the crooks, risking being shot-at.

    That approach would incur no additional municipal cost for monitoring, and any misuse of the cameras would be the responsibility of individual citizens, not Big Brother. Would citizens actually do it? I think they would, in high-crime areas or areas where crime is rising. That approach would be democratic, rather than autocratic.

  • by Ashriel ( 1457949 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @12:29PM (#26941331)

    I'll agree with you that there is nothing wrong with public surveillance. What I don't like is not having public access to "public" surveillance.

    I'm all for cameras on every street corner, if I can go home and http over to (or .tv, or whatever) and pick from all the cameras which street corner I'd like to watch.

    Not that I'd bother that much - seems like it would be boring as far as I'm concerned. But I don't people-watch in general.

    I think those that do people-watch would have a new hobby, and having millions of eyes on all the public places would eliminate the possibility of corrupt oversight. Also, it would enable concerned citizens to call in crimes that are in progress, and drastically improve response time of the police, to the point where they might actually offer some degree of preventative other than deterrence.

    Now before someone goes off on how this could be abused, the only way I can conceive of to abuse a system like this is to include identification capabilities into the camera system (like facial recognition), which I am totally opposed to - that's just a little too invasive in a "free" society. No one is going to use cameras to stalk people: they'd be spotted on camera doing the stalking. And harassing phone calls... well, that's an issue of tracing the phone call, not blaming the camera.

    Anyone else with thoughts on this? I personally think it's a great idea, and most people I've mentioned it to seem to be either for it or ambivalent towards it (meaning they can't find any fault with it, but just don't feel comfortable with the idea of surveillance regardless).

    Public surveillance is going to happen - the least we can do is to make sure the right people (that is, everyone together) have control over it.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @01:01PM (#26941615)

    Exiling violent offenders

    I'll bite.

    Exile them to where, exactly?

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban