Questioning Surveillance’s Role in a Post-Boston Bombing World

The-tsarnaev-suspects-fbi-photo-release While the world’s eyes locked on one set of brothers, the conversation surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing quickly shifted to Big Brother, and surveillance’s role in preventing acts of terror. We’re here to parse the opinions, and say why everyone is right — and wrong.

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farm blog post imageAs economic woes hit rural communities, farmers are turning to technology to keep their land secure. In an instantly famous spot from this year’s Super Bowl, renowned Midwestern radio personality Paul Harvey intones, “On the 8th day… God made a farmer.” And on the 9th day, the farmer began worrying about his livelihood — and looking for innovative ways to protect it.

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school-hallwayEvery high school has experienced some level of vandalism pranks. But one Detroit high school was facing a serious problem when the schools’ essential copper pipes and electrical wiring were sold to scrap yards resulting in millions of dollars of damage. After this fiasco, the school turned to high tech surveillance systems and silent alarms to catch the criminals in the act.

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creeperGood luck trying to get a picture with an Amish person the next time you go to Pennsylvania–it’s against their religion. But when a certain thief kept breaking Commandment number eight, thou shall not steal, local Amish businessman John Petersheim installed a camera to catch the crook in the act. No one ever said or chiseled into a tablet that taking pictures of others was wrong, especially when trying to forge a safer community.

The thief in the Georgetown area of Pennsylvania had been targeting stores run by the Amish, most likely under the pretense that these particular stores would not have taken such stringent security measures. Four businesses have been robbed since October continuing up until January, with one store hit a total of 6 times.

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cellphonesurveillanceThe City of Los Angeles has recently implemented mobile surveillance cameras in one of the city’s and nation’s largest port of calls. The mobile technology will allow police to capture live video using their cell phone cameras. The footage will then be accessible online, which will allow colleagues to check in on officers in the field.

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bludotA few months ago we reported that Blu Dot, a Minneapolis based design firm planned to plant their signature chairs around New York City, and to use GPS technology to see what would happen to them. Would people grab them? Would they adopt them into their homes? Would they sit on them? Using a combination of GPS technology and covert surveillance, Blu Dot found out.

“The key to this idea was involvement,” Michael Hart, founder of Mono, said. “Not just them taking the chairs, but the whole community with this notion of an experiment and ‘Where will the chairs go?’”

The design firm hired video company Supermarche to document the entire operation – complete with code names, hidden video cameras, and treetop perches where they would videotape unsuspecting people interacting with the chairs. Some chairs were sat in, others were nabbed, others were adopted in homes. The videographers found that colorful chairs were snatched up more quickly, while plain chairs were considered institutionalized and therefore sat in, but not taken as often.

Check out the video and see what people have to say about  curb mining!

(Via The Wall Street Journal Blog)

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71432134JS009_Medical_MarijRecently three masked men broke into a  medical marijuana store stealing most of the merchandise and even ripping a 25 lb. safe out of the wall.

Cameras captured three men walking into a medical marijuana store and in less than three minutes robbing the place clean. From the footage in the video it is clear to see that the thieves knew their way around the store. They used crowbars to rip the store safe off the wall which contained $5,000 worth of medical marijuana.

“It makes me so mad” said store owner Chris Branan, he told reporters that the store serves close to 200 patients and had recently installed the video cameras in the store. The thieves left with everything but the store’s ATM machine which displayed and clear warning that it was tracked by GPS.

Unfortunately the police were unable to identify the perpetrators because of the masks they wore.  However, Branan assures other that despite this set back he will be back in business serving his patients again.

(Via Fox News)

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The Empire State Building is just one of New York's landmarks located in Midtown Manhattan

After 9/11 there were many security measures implemented in New York City to ensure the safety of its citizens. From airports to local businesses, cameras and license plate scanners were scattered throughout the southern part of the city, effectively creating a technological safe-blanket around lower Manhattan. Now, Mayor Bloomberg has announced plans to increase surveillance over the areas between 30th and 60th Streets, from the Hudson to the East River.

The new expanded security network will work in the same way the old one did, with the cameras feeding data streams into a coordination center located at 55 Broadway for analysis.

Mayor Bloomberg stated “We cannot afford to be complacent,” while reminding people in the crowd that Midtown contains such historic landmarks as Grand Central Station, the Empire state building, and the United Nations buildings, all of which could be subject to terrorist attack. He then added “Do you really want to work in a building that doesn’t have security?”

All in all, the program will cost $24 million and the funds for this project will be provided from the Department of Homeland Security. The program is scheduled to begin next year with completion expected in 2011. The majority of New Yorkers should take heart knowing that the city is making great strides in trying to keep all of us safe.

(Via The New York Times)

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Naiz Khan, a Manhattan coffee cart operator currently under 24 hour FBI surveillance

Naiz Khan, a coffee cart operator in Manhattan, is currently under 24 hour surveillance after the FBI was able to possibly tie him to another terrorist named Najibullah Zazi. Zazi was at the center of an alleged bombing plot. Khan let Zazi stay at his home on the night of September 10th and he was also in Pakistan with Zazi at the same time. When police raided Khan’s apartment they found several suspicious black book bags and a small scale which they believed could be used to measure bomb ingredients.

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