Smile! Street Cameras are Watching You

Public cameras are everywhere capturing our every move. It turns out, the 1998 Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show was prescient:

But just how intrusive are today’s closed-circuit public cameras? We spoke to Adam Monlar, who runs Security Games, a web site that documents surveillance and control tactics used at sports game and other “mega-events.”

“For many individuals that pass by lower Manhattan or through London, they can expect to be on camera regularly,” Molnar says. “They can have their geo-locator pinged off their cell phone.”

These same cameras use face and object detection technology that can pick people out from a crowd based on gender, approximate age and even color of clothing. It’s all (at least technically) in hopes of capturing terrorists before they strike.

But that’s not always what happens. Much of London’s hard surveillance tactics arrived in the wake of the 2005 attack on London’s transportation system, which left more than 30 dead and 700 injured. But Molnar says even since then, the added cameras haven’t really stopped crime. “Even in 2007, 80 percent of crime in London still went unsolved even with this kind of infrastructure in place,” he says.

Still these big cities attest that their surveillance systems are crucial to the safety of their citizens.

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