Cameras "Predict" Crimes
New developments from surveillance-camera-happy England:
The £7,000 device, nicknamed "the Bug", consists of a ring of eight cameras scanning in all directions. It uses software to detect whether anybody is walking or loitering in a way that marks them out from the crowd. A ninth camera then zooms in to follow them if it thinks they are behaving suspiciously.
"The camera picks up on unusual movement, zooms in on someone and gathers evidence from a face and clothing, acting as a 24-hour operator without someone having to be there," said Jason Butler, head of CCTV at Luton borough council. "We have kids with Asbos telling us they hate the thing because it follows them wherever they go."
This is interesting. It moves us further along the continuum into thoughtcrimes, but near as I can tell, the system just collects evidence on people it thinks suspicious, just in case. Assuming the data is erased immediately after, it's much less invasive than actually accosting someone for thoughtcrime; the costs for false alarms is minimal.
I doubt it works nearly as well as the article claims, but that's likely to change in 5 to 10 years. For example, there's a lot of research being done in the area of microfacial expressions to detect lying and other thoughts. This is the sort of technological advance that we need to be talking about in terms of security, privacy, and liberty.
Posted on April 19, 2007 at 6:20 AM • 41 Comments