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DARPA Develops Urban Surveillance System

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  • Larry Lawson
    Ever see the movie: THEY LIVE! If not, you SHOULD!! U.S. Develops Urban Surveillance System
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2003
      Ever see the movie: "THEY LIVE!"  If not, you SHOULD!!

      U.S. Develops Urban Surveillance System


      Associated Press

      WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is developing an urban surveillance system that
      would use computers and thousands of cameras to track, record and analyze
      the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city.

      Dubbed "Combat Zones That See," the project is designed to help the U.S.
      protect troops and fight in cities overseas.

      DARPA contracting document:


      Police, scientists and privacy experts say the unclassified technology
      could easily be adapted to spy on Americans.

      The project's centerpiece is groundbreaking computer software that is
      capable of automatically identifying vehicles by size, color, shape and
      license tag, or drivers and passengers by face.

      According to interviews and contracting documents, the software may also
      provide instant alerts after detecting a vehicle with a license plate on a
      watchlist, or search months of records to locate and compare vehicles
      spotted near terrorist activities.

      The project is being overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
      Agency, which is helping the Pentagon develop new technologies for
      combatting terrorism and fighting wars in the 21st century.

      Its other projects include developing software that scans databases of
      everyday transactions and personal records worldwide to predict terrorist
      attacks and creating a computerized diary that would record and analyze
      everything a person says, sees, hears, reads or touches.

      Scientists and privacy experts - who already have seen the use of
      face-recognition technologies at a Super Bowl and monitoring cameras in
      London - are concerned about the potential impact of the emerging DARPA
      technologies if they are applied to civilians by commercial or government
      agencies outside the Pentagon.

      "Government would have a reasonably good idea of where everyone is most of
      the time,"
      said John Pike, a Global Security.org defense analyst.

      DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker dismisses those concerns. She said the Combat
      Zones That See (CTS) technology isn't intended for homeland security or law
      enforcement and couldn't be used for "other applications without extensive

      But scientists envision nonmilitary uses. "One can easily foresee pressure
      to adopt a similar approach to crime-ridden areas of American cities or to
      the Super Bowl or any site where crowds gather,"
      said Steven Aftergood of
      the Federation of American Scientists.

      Pike agreed.

      "Once DARPA demonstrates that it can be done, a number of companies would
      likely develop their own version in hope of getting contracts from local
      police, nuclear plant security, shopping centers, even people looking for
      deadbeat dads."

      James Fyfe, a deputy New York police commissioner, believes police will be
      ready customers for such technologies.

      "Police executives are saying, `Shouldn't we just buy new technology if
      there's a chance it might help us?'" Fyfe said. "That's the post-9-11

      Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said he sees law enforcement
      applications for DARPA's urban camera project
      "in limited scenarios." But
      citywide surveillance would tax police manpower, Kerlikowske said. "Who's
      going to validate and corroborate all those alerts?"

      According to contracting documents reviewed by The Associated Press, DARPA
      plans to award a three-year contract for up to $12 million by Sept. 1. In
      the first phase, at least 30 cameras would help protect troops at a fixed
      site. The project would use small $400 stick-on cameras, each linked to a
      $1,000 personal computer.

      In the second phase, at least 100 cameras would be installed in 12 hours to
      support "military operations in an urban terrain."

      The second-phase software should be able to analyze the video footage and
      identify "what is normal (behavior), what is not" and discover "links
      between places, subjects and times of activity,"
      the contracting documents

      The program "aspires to build the world's first multi-camera surveillance
      system that uses automatic ... analysis of live video" to study vehicle
      "and significant events across an extremely large area," the
      documents state.

      Both configurations will be tested at Ft. Belvoir, Va., south of
      Washington, then in a foreign city.
      Walker declined comment on whether
      Kabul, Afghanistan, or Baghdad, Iraq, might be chosen but says the foreign
      country's permission will be obtained.

      DARPA outlined project goals March 27 for more than 100 executives of
      potential contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the Johns
      Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

      DARPA told the contractors that 40 million cameras already are in use
      around the world, with 300 million expected by 2005.

      U.S. police use cameras to monitor bridges, tunnels, airports and border
      crossings and regularly access security cameras in banks, stores and
      garages for investigative leads. In the District of Columbia, police have
      16 closed-circuit television cameras watching major roads and gathering places.

      Great Britain has an estimated 2.5 million closed-circuit television
      more than half operated by government agencies, and the average
      Londoner is thought to be photographed 300 times a day.

      But many of these cameras record over their videotape regularly. Officers
      have to monitor the closed-circuit TV and struggle with boredom and loss of

      By automating the monitoring and analysis, DARPA "is attempting to create
      technology that does not exist today," Walker explained.

      Though insisting CTS isn't intended for homeland security, DARPA outlined a
      hypothetical scenario for contractors in March that showed the system could
      aid police as well as the military. DARPA described a hypothetical
      terrorist shooting at a bus stop and a hypothetical bombing at a disco one
      month apart in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a city with slightly more
      residents than Miami.

      CTS should be able to track the day's movements for every vehicle that
      passed each scene in the hour before the attack, DARPA said. Even if there
      were 2,000 such vehicles and none showed up twice, the software should
      automatically compare their routes and find vehicles with common starting
      and stopping points.

      Joseph Onek of the Open Society Institute, a human rights group, said
      current law that permits the use of cameras in public areas may have to be
      revised to address the privacy implications of these new technologies.

      "It's one thing to say that if someone is in the street he knows that at
      any single moment someone can see him," Onek said. "It's another thing to
      record a whole life so you can see anywhere someone has been in public for
      10 years."

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