From the above City of San Pablo, California Facebook page;
Public Safety with New Technology
The Critical Step in Public Safety: Surveillance Cameras
After the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, images of the Tsarnaev brothers captured on security cameras quickly circulated, ultimately leading to their demise. San Pablo, just like most modern day cities, implemented a new crime fighting plan based on using new technology to prevent crimes from happening and to solve criminal cases.
In 2010, the San Pablo Police Department developed a City-wide Surveillance Plan as a means of using technological advancements to support existing police services and to promote public safety. New technology has not only been of great assistance to the department in solving crimes, it has also lead to a reduction in crime, improvement of public areas and parks, and an increase in people’s sense of safety.
The City-wide Surveillance Plan that has been designed includes the use of three (3) different types of cameras:
1) Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) Cameras
2) Pan, Tilt, Zoom (PTZ) Cameras
3) Fixed Resolution Cameras
All of these types of cameras are located along the City’s major roadways and intersections. Police officers are alerted immediately when a vehicle is wanted or stolen since license plate numbers are captured by the ALPR cameras are crosschecked (in real time) with “hot lists” or stolen vehicle lists. With the aid of ALPR notifications, arrests of criminals in stolen vehicles have increased by 50%.
To complement the video surveillance, an acoustic surveillance system has also been added called “ShotSpotter.” ShotSpotter technology is activated when the sound of gunfire or explosives occurs outdoors, then ShotSpotter Flex sensors and software pinpoint the precise location of each round fired within seconds. Police officers are then alerted and are able to respond to the scene immediately. To further enhance this technology, PTZ cameras located in proximity to the ShotSpotter system, are set to swivel automatically to the location where gunshots are detected, giving a visual of the crime scene to police officers.
In 2011, the City of San Pablo received federal funding to deploy most of the technology the San Pablo Police Department uses today including: the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system, surveillance cameras at Downer and Dover elementary schools, and the installation of mobile ALPR cameras in patrol vehicles. By 2012, these systems had shown much success in apprehending suspects and solving crimes in the community.
The cameras at the schools virtually eliminated gang graffiti within the cameras range of view and provided a crucial lead in solving two gang-related shootings, one of which resulted in a homicide.
Among the successes, is one recent incident where the ShotSpotter system detected gunshots and alerted officers to the scene of a robbery – homicide long before anyone called the police station to report it. This enabled the officers to respond quickly, and they were able to catch the suspects as they were leaving the scene.
In November 2013, because public safety is listed as a major priority spending area of the community at-large, the San Pablo City Council authorized the Police Department to enter into a $961,672 contract with Odin Systems, Inc. to install additional surveillance cameras over the next three (3) year period as part of the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget. The first year, cameras will be installed in the Old Town area of San Pablo, along Rumrill Boulevard between Sanford Avenue and Market Avenue. The second year, cameras will be installed along 23rd Street, and at Davis Park, including coverage of the Wildcat Creek Trail from Rumrill Boulevard to 23rd Street. The third year will focus on the installation of the northern half of the city, including Wanlass Park.
Eventually, the entire City-wide Surveillance Plan will encompass the entire community with this new technology network of cameras which will make it increasingly difficult for crimes to be committed, and acts as a visual deterrent to criminals looking for opportunities in San Pablo.
Gunshot Detection Systems Need To Be Closely Monitored
Last week, the New York Times wrote about a gunshot detection technology called ShotSpotter. Similar to video camera monitoring technology, audio detection devices are set up throughout a city. These devices pick up the sound of a gunshot and triangulate the location. Back at a control room, a technician notifies the police. Within minutes of the initial gunshot, police arrive on the scene often before a 911 call is even placed.According to the Times:
Many police officials say the system has significantly improved response time for crimes involving firearms and has increased community confidence and helped deter gun crime by demonstrating that the police can show up quickly at the right place.
The technology, they say, has given officers critical information about what to expect upon arriving at a crime scene — like whether a gun was fired from a car and if so, how fast and in what direction the car was traveling — and has offered a level of precision in locating gunfire rarely afforded by 911 calls.
As long as the audio devices only listen and record gunshots, it’s a promising tool for law enforcement to improve their response times to gun crimes and their chances of apprehending the perpetrators.
The downside is when the microphones start recording private conversations. As the Times article points out, they already are doing this in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst at the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project weighs in with the ACLU’s view:
It is not generally legal for law enforcement (or anyone else) to make audio recordings of conversations in which they are not a participant without a warrant. In addition to the apparently accidental eavesdropping reported by the Times, an important question is whether microphones can be remotely activated by police who want to listen to nearby conversations.
We’ll be watching closely to ensure that these systems don’t become the latest way for police to get around the Fourth Amendment. In New Bedford, the district attorney told the Times he thought the recording could be admissible as evidence. If the courts start allowing recordings of conversations picked up by these devices to be admitted as evidence, then it will provide an additional incentive to the police to install microphones in our public spaces, over and above what is justified by the level of effectiveness the technology proves to have in pinpointing gun shots. It will also reduce the incentive of the manufacturers to design these systems so that they only pick up gunshots and not the conversations of people walking down the street.
allstaractivist note: Unfortunately, I have discovered the below site to be a disinformation site. Let the reader continue with caution.
Feds Deploy National Spy System of Microphones Capable of Recording Conversations
Hidden in plain sight: The next level of NSA snooping will detect dissent via ubiquitous audio sensors
Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
November 11, 2013
The revelations of Edward Snowden shone fresh light on NSA spying targeting the American people, but what has gone largely unnoticed is the fact that a network of different spy systems which can record real time conversations are already in place throughout many urban areas of the United States, as well as in the technology products we buy and use on a regular basis.
These systems are no secret – they are hiding in plain view – and yet concerns about the monolithic potential for their abuse have been muted.
That lack of discussion represents a massive lost opportunity for the privacy community because whereas polls have shown apathy, indifference, or even support for NSA spying, anecdotal evidence suggests that people would be up in arms if they knew the content of their daily conversations were under surveillance.
The dystopian movie V for Vendetta features a scene in which goons working for the totalitarian government drive down residential streets with spy technology listening to people’s conversations to detect the vehemence of criticism against the state.
Such technology already exists or is rapidly being introduced through a number of different guises in America and numerous other developed countries.
The Washington Post recently published a feature length article on gunshot detectors, known as ShotSpotter, which detailed how in Washington DC there are now, “at least 300 acoustic sensors across 20 square miles of the city,” microphones wrapped in a weather-proof shell that can detect the location of a sound down to a few yards and analyze the audio using a computer program.
While the systems are touted as “gunshot detectors,” as the New York Times reported in May 2012, similar technology is already installed in over 70 cities around the country, and in some cases it is being used to listen to conversations.
“In at least one city, New Bedford, Mass., where sensors recorded a loud street argument that accompanied a fatal shooting in December, the system has raised questions about privacy and the reach of police surveillance, even in the service of reducing gun violence,” states the report.
Frank Camera, the lawyer for Jonathan Flores, a man charged with murder, complained that the technology is “opening up a whole can of worms.”
“If the police are utilizing these conversations, then the issue is, where does it stop?” he said.
This led the ACLU to warn that the technology could represent a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment if misused.
The ACLU’s Jay Stanley asked, “whether microphones can be remotely activated by police who want to listen to nearby conversations,” noting that it was illegal for police “to make audio recordings of conversations in which they are not a participant without a warrant.”
“If the courts start allowing recordings of conversations picked up by these devices to be admitted as evidence, then it will provide an additional incentive to the police to install microphones in our public spaces, over and above what is justified by the level of effectiveness the technology proves to have in pinpointing gun shots,” wrote Stanley.
Eventually, if indeed it is not already happening in some major metropolitan areas, voices will be linked to biometric facial profiles via the Trapwire system, which allows the government to monitor citizens via public and private CCTV networks.
As we have also previously highlighted, numerous major cities in the Unites States are currently being fitted with Intellistreets ‘smart’ street lighting systems that also have the capability of recording conversations and sending them directly to authorities via wi-fi.
As we reported on Sunday, the Las Vegas Public Works Department has begun testing the devices, which act as surveillance cameras, Minority Report-style advertising hubs, and Homeland Security alert systems. As ABC 7 reported in 2011, they are “also capable of recording conversations.”
Televisions, computers and cellphones are already utilizing technology that records conversations in order to bombard users with invasive targeted advertising. Last year, Verizon followed Google’s lead and officially filed a patent for a set-top box that will actively spy on Americans in their own homes by turning TVs into wiretaps.
The patent application says that the technology will be capable of detecting “ambient action” including “cuddling, fighting and talking” in people’s living rooms.
The box will even listen to your conversations, according to the communication giant’s patent.
“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g., while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words,” the document states.
In an article we published back in 2006, we highlighted the fact that, “Digital cable TV boxes, such as Scientific Atlanta, have had secret in-built microphones inside them since their inception in the late 1990′s.”
This technology is now commonplace, with products like the Xbox utilizing in-built microphones to allow voice control. Microsoft promises that it won’t use the microphones to record your conversations, which is a fairly hollow guarantee given that Microsoft collaborated with the NSA to allow the federal agency to bypass its encryption services in order to spy on people.
App providers on the Android network also now require users to agree to a condition that, “Allows the app to record audio with the microphone,” on cellphones and other ‘smart’ devices. “This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation,” states the text of the agreement.
Virtually every new technological device now being manufactured that is linked to the Internet has the capability to record conversations and send them back to a central hub. Is it really any wonder therefore that former CIA director David Petraeus heralded the arrival of the “smart home” as a boon for “clandestine statecraft”?
Whistleblowers such as William Binney have warned that the NSA has virtually every US citizen under surveillance, with the ability to record all of their communications. The agency recently completed construction of a monolithic heavily fortified $2 billion facility deep in the Utah desert to process and analyze all of the information collected.
If the revelations of Edward Snowden taught us one thing then it’s that if the NSA has the capability to use a technology to spy on its primary target – the American people – then it is already doing so.
The state has already had blanket access to phone records since at least 1987 under the Hemisphere program, under which AT&T gave the Drug Enforcement Agency access to call logs.
This network of computer programs, urban wi-fi infrastructure and technological products inside our homes that all have the capability of recording our conversations represents an even more invasive and Orwellian prospect than anything Edward Snowden brought to light, and yet discussion of its threat to fundamental privacy has been virtually non-existent.