Surveillance Tour of Minneapolis

Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me while wandering around Minneapolis, looking for cameras and other forms of mass surveillance.

Posted on August 9, 2006 at 1:24 PM • 16 Comments

Comments

JosephAugust 9, 2006 1:57 PM

Does anybody have an mp3 version of this? I am interested in listening to the interview, but installing RealPlayer has given me so many headaches in the past that I will never do it again-

atm machine machineAugust 9, 2006 5:09 PM

"... heres an atm machine ..."

Is an automatic teller machine machine a machine that makes automatic teller machines or a machine that automates the client side operation of automatic teller machines ?

Davi OttenheimerAugust 9, 2006 6:51 PM

the thing that always used to get to me about downtown minneapolis was how unfriendly the public spaces were to pedestrians. the commercial spaces (like the giant indoor shopping areas) were barren at street-level but totally decked out with glittery fountains and flora inside. maybe it's the climate, but the effect was a chill outside high walls of commerce. in that sense, i found myself mostly directed towards private property (privatized public spaces) if i wanted to go somewhere comfortable, and thus stripped of many rights (petition, free speech, etc.) before i could even get to the concern of surveillance.

Davi OttenheimerAugust 9, 2006 9:50 PM

bruce, i listened carefully and it seemed like you only noted cameras in commercial spaces -- skyways, atms, hotel lobbies, cafes -- but you said they are "really everywhere".

did you also note any cameras in true public (not private ownership) spaces like parks or along streets, perhaps the sort that would be monitored by law enforcement?

per my comment above, the decision not to shop or frequent a business that engages in surveillance seems different to me than actually being forced to "live as a hermit...stuck in the woods eating berries".

GregAugust 10, 2006 2:25 AM

@Davi Ottenheimer

Well in NZ there are no such shops. Everyone has cameras, gas stations, corner shops, warehouses etc. The only shop you could shop at would be the one you opened. And i'm leaving out all the "crime prevention" cameras operated by the govt.

But I now live in Austria, and there are a lot of smaller (and more expensive) shops without any camers. Most are cash only.
I have no idea about "public" cams, they are certinaly not obvious like in NZ.


bobAugust 10, 2006 7:13 AM

The "cameras everywhere" virus seems to have its root node in the UK and is spreading to the UK derived countries first.

Possibly there is a tie-in since these countries' jurisprudence systems were also inherited from the UK and somehow rewards camers/punishes non-camers?

Seth SchoenAugust 10, 2006 7:27 PM

I recently gave an almost exactly isomorphic tour in San Francisco to a radio journalist from Germany, who's going to run it on German public radio sometime soon. I'm glad you did this for a U.S. audience.

Davi OttenheimerAugust 10, 2006 9:57 PM

Nevermind, I found it. Perhaps not as colorful as the images conjured up by your radio broadcast (soon we could be forced to live like wild bears!) but a complete map of Minneapolis with a list of public and private cameras can be found here:

http://www.mpls-watched.org/map/

You can even see pictures of many of the cameras to help you plot your next tour. The site's nicely done, although the last update was in 2005.

The site also mentions "Senator Linda Berglin has introduced a bill to greatly increase the number of security cameras in Minneapolis."

And it points out "On June 10th, 2003 a Star Tribune poll asked readers if they thought Surveillance cameras were needed downtown. The respondents seemed pretty evenly split on the matter."

Davi OttenheimerAugust 10, 2006 10:05 PM

I guess I'm on a roll, here are the notes from the proposal by Berglin:

http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/committee/2005-2006/finance_public_safety/update.htm

"A proposal to expand a security camera network from downtown Minneapolis to the entire city was considered by members of the Public Safety Budget Division, Mon., Apr. 3.

S.F. 3568, carried by Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls.), provides a grant to the state's largest city to expand the program, beginning with the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates. A program linking cameras in downtown has been successful, Berglin said, and now we need to expand the system into neighborhoods across the city. The grant, she said, is for the infrastructure to connect the cameras; the cameras are being purchased separately by community groups. Minneapolis does not have enough police, Berglin said. She said the proposal extends the effectiveness of the police with a smaller investment than would be required to hire more police. Linking the cameras also provides the police with more evidence of what has happened, she said.

Residents of the Phillips community discussed the need to address the crime plaguing their neighborhoods. The residents said the camera system will allow them to reclaim their community and to extend police presence. Terrence McManus of NorthWrite, which designed the downtown system, discussed the impact the camera network has had on crime prevention and crime fighting. He said estimates indicate the infrastructure covered by S.F. 3568 will cost about $300,000 for the entire city.

There are privacy and autonomy issues with this system, said Rich Neumeister, a privacy advocate. He said the downtown initiative has worked within appropriate guidelines. Neumeister said similar guidelines should be adopted for the citywide system. There are different issues in generally residential neighborhoods, he said, and the city should engage in open dialogue with residents about those issues.

S.F. 3568 was laid over for possible inclusion in the panel's supplemental budget proposal. "

Even with the systems I've installed and managed, that seems like a *lot* of money for public cameras...I'm guessing the bulk of it is for labor. Not that I'm opposed to cameras, since they are a control point, but it seems to me that the same money applied directly to preventive (instead of detective) activities might net a greater return for the community.

Ed T.August 11, 2006 7:41 AM

Given enough time, the entire country will be wired like a Vegas casino - and then the NSA can take on the role of the folks in the "security office" who watch everything that is going on.

Just wait until someone comes up with the bright idea of correlating the output of the data-mining with the cameras...

Shudder...

~EdT.

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