Have you ever read the novel 1984 by George Orwell? Written in 1949 long before the invention of the internet or the world wide web it imagines a world in which thoughts are crimes and the state knows everything about its citizens.
It’s a classic piece of literature that resonates more than ever today as technology increases. This is because your local police authority may know more about you than you think.
Without much oversight, local police can access powerful surveillance technology, including omnipresent CCTV cameras, automatic number plate readers (ALPR), and cell phone GPS tracking devices.
But what about future surveillance camera technology? Here’s everything you need to know.
The Virtual Watchmen
Newark Council New Jersey uses a program called Citizen Virtual Patrol that allows home visitors to stream video from video cameras set up throughout the city. It’s like a privately crowd-funded CCTV collection funded by residents.
Such technology can reduce crime as people from around the world can monitor the live feeds of public places, notifying law enforcement in real-time about what’s happening.
Those members of the Virtual Citizen Patrol who’ve watched a crime take place on camera can also testify about crimes maintaining their anonymity.
However, let’s look at the issue another way. People have a high expectation of privacy and may start monitoring their legal behavior in public places. Such private CCTV must comply with existing privacy laws. It can’t look into people’s houses.
Nor can it capture who goes into and out of a house or apartment as people expect to be able to have guests without being monitored. The license plates of parked cars must also be blocked out if the information is made public for people to look at, as well as any other private behavior.
Such a network could be a godsend for criminals who could use the live feed to figure out when someone had gone on vacation and could burgle their house.
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On the front roof of the car, there are small flat cameras that take a picture of the number plate as it passes and translates it into simple letters and numbers. And this is combined with geodata. For each car, each time it is observed, this data is entered into a database.
If you look down the street and see policemen recording license plates day in, day out, you might wonder why they are doing this.
Some police departments wonder if it’s worth noting license plates when they have this technology available. It is not illegal for the police to record the number plates of cars parked in public, whether they are in a car park or a public park.
ALPRs help to find stolen cars and cars that could have been used in a crime.
It’s easy to see where this technology might go in the future. You might have a system of tracking built into every car which enables the police to know where every car is at any one time.
Facial Recognition CCTV
CCTV is also becoming so sophisticated that it includes elements of facial recognition. It’s now being used in the City of London. Not only would police know where every car is at any one time, but they could also cross-reference it with CCTV to determine who was driving.
This could end the practice of husbands, wives, and other loves ones lying about who was driving the vehicle to avoid driving bans and penalties.
In the vast majority of these cases, the state would be able to prove perjury relatively easily with this new type of surveillance camera.
States have different laws on how long such data is kept. In New Hampshire, for example, if a car isn’t linked to a crime and doesn’t look like anything, you can delete it within three minutes. Other states set a 24-hour limit, and many states set limits, and they set limits that discard the image of a vast database.
The ShotSpotter is a sensor that detects the sound of gunshots. It is trained to detect “loud, impulsive noises” between 120 and 160 decibels.
When it hears a noise, it sends an alarm to ShotSpotter headquarters. At the HQ of ShotSpotters in California, the alarm sounds.
When ShotSpotters hear a sound, for example, a gunshot, ShotSpotter will send a message to a nearby police officer. It informs them exactly what they heard. This could include how many shots have been fired. It deploys an officer to the scene of the alleged shooting and activates any nearby security cameras.
What do people think about ShotSpotter? Many people believe that this kind of technology could be used to eavesdrop on people since the cars are listening to all the time.
But ‘always-listening devices are becoming ever-present in our lives without much backlash.
Amazon’s Echo and Echo dot devices which deploy their voice assistant Alexa are always listening. They have now sold hundreds of millions of units.
ShotSpotter is keen to point out that it can’t hear conversations just loud noises and sudden sounds. Nevertheless, critics say it is a form of police surveillance.
Surveillance Technology Is Here to Stay
The reality is surveillance camera technology is here to stay. Every day police surveillance technology assists them to catch more criminals and this keeps them within budget which is continuously stretched.
From facial recognition to ALPR software to detect where a car is when it passes a speed camera, sometimes it can feel like we’re already living in the future.
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