Police testing universal real-time surveillance

By Jeffrey Rindskopf,

Police in Compton have been testing a new technology that, if successful, would allow them to view the goings-on of the city as it all unfolds, seeing every mugging, kidnapping, and shootout. The technology comes from an Ohio company that helps watch cities with a bird's eye view.

According to Gizmodo, the mass surveillance system was invented by Air Force veteran Ross McNutt who owns the company Persistent Surveillance Systems.

McNutt himself describes his system as "a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities," according to The Center for Investigative Reporting. He also says it can zoom in and follow specific people and cars as they move through the city and can be used in conjunction with stoplight cameras to positively identify suspects.

The system has been tested in major cities, including Baltimore and Dayton, but most notably in Compton, where police employed the technology to track crimes. In one case, they followed a purse snatcher from the scene of the crime to his getaway car using the technology.

The technology was kept heavily under wraps until now.

With news of the technology breaking, critics are claiming the technology takes the modern surveillance state too far, leaving no corner of a city left to privacy. However, supporters counter that it's actually less invasive than existing technologies because it can't see into homes or identify faces.

If the technology is employed on a broad scales, it's unclear how the public will react.

The original article from the The Center for Investigative Reporting also details other emerging police technologies, including facial recognition technology and a searchable fingerprint database.

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