When one gets a new four-legged family member, things get a little bit challenging. It is even more so when the new four-legged friend is a rescue puppy. Little time is available for activities not involving acclimation of the new arrival.
During an acclimation period, the show “What on Earth” aired by the Science channel happened to be playing. An interesting segment revealed a new piece of technology currently in “trial” in Juarez, an area on the border of Texas and Mexico, where a plane mounted with numerous cameras flies about 10,000 feet in the air recording the entire city.
The segment covered the ability of this new technology by a man named Ross McNutt, founder and president of Persistent Surveillance Systems based in Dayton, Ohio.
The cameras have the ability to cover approximately 30 square miles and produce a seamless real-time image capture of the activities of everyone and everything within the coverage area.
As it happened, the segment focused on the capture of a cartel crime syndicate using this technology that captured a murder with no witnesses.
Because of this technology, the creator, McNutt, was able to rewind the footage and forward the footage to expose the locations and individuals involved resulting in arrests of the individuals in the syndicate to include the man who ordered the murder.
The article also revealed this same technology by Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) flew over Compton, California for nine days in 2012, capturing “murders, robberies and many other crimes.”
According to McNutt, the technology does not possess adequate resolution to identify an individual, but it is enough to track one person’s movements for the time the plane is airborne, about six hours at present.
What many individuals may not know is planes equipped with the ability to track cell phones have been in use now for many years.
In June of last year, the flights occurred over Wilmington, North Carolina, carrying “state of the art persistent surveillance” camera equipment with the ability to monitor large areas continuously for hours.
The Phoenix and Wilmington flights are among dozens tracked by BuzzFeed News that were flown by companies run by an obscure, Oklahoma-based private equity fund called Acorn Growth Companies. Acorn’s planes serve as the US military’s “A-Team” for aerial surveillance in Africa, including tracking suspected terrorists’ phones from the air. In the US, the planes sometimes take part in military exercises — as they were in Phoenix — helping troops practice raids on targets using the same phone-tracking technology.
At other times, Acorn serves commercial clients. The Wilmington flights, according to the company that made and operated the persistent surveillance camera, were run for two reasons: to demonstrate the technology’s value for traffic surveys, and to track vehicles going to and from retail outlets. This “commercial intelligence” would allow businesses to understand where their customers are driving from. The idea was to give retailers clues to help their marketing, so they can target mailings or other efforts to lure in customers from neighborhoods where people tend to shop at competing stores.
According to the BBC article in 2014, “While tests have been carried out in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Ohio, in addition to Compton and the Mexican city of Juarez, civil liberties concerns have discouraged officials from signing contracts.”
In 2014, Persistent Surveillance Systems confirmed tests occurred in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Ohio.
The agency flying these “surveillance” missions happened to be Persistent Surveillance Systems, who did so for the police department courtesy of funding by a “private donor”, specifically Texas billionaire John Arnold and his wife, Laura.
Amid the protests of violations of privacy, law enforcement officials in Baltimore confirmed in October of 2016, the “eye in the sky” surveillance will remain in service.
According to CBSnews.com in a March 2015 article, “Persistent Surveillance has currently only been contracted for short-term missions, like high-crime areas in the United States like Camden, N.J., to some of the highest crime areas of the world, like Mexico’s one-time murder capital, Ciudad Juarez.”
So much for civil liberty concerns preventing officials from using this technology.
It appears this technology has been in use for quite some time.
Yet, how many Americans actually know about it?
How many have seen any reports about it?
Until seen on the Science Channel show ”What on Earth” then doing a bit of research, the use of this technology was unknown to this writer.
In this YouTube video, one can understand the scope of this technology as it performed a demonstration flight over Dayton, Ohio.
The video mentions Northrop Grumman as one company using the technology, but Raytheon maintains a system of persistent surveillance as well.
BAE Systems Inc. is another company offering airborne wide-area persistent surveillance system (AWAPSS) technology to its customers. Canadian company, Rheinmetall Defence, has its own version of persistence surveillance to offer its Canadian forces, going back as far as 2010.
This is another example of technology developed for the military that is finding its way into use by civilian authorities.
While this technology has been further developed as a way to catch criminals in what would otherwise be unsolvable crimes and offer a bit of additional safety to individuals in high crime areas, such as Juarez, it has the potential to be used nefariously by individuals and governments in the ultimate “big brother is watching” scenario.
Yes, use by commercial entities to target marketing campaigns to damage competing businesses is nefarious.
It all begs the question, “what happens when technology outpaces human morality, integrity, and character?”
As with any technology, if the individuals who operate it are moral, the technology will be moral.
However, in this day and age with increasing immorality, lack of integrity, and waning character, technology of this kind will not be used morally, with great integrity or good character.
More than likely, the technology will morph into a nefarious component under the guise of “increased safety” and “decreasing crime and terrorism.”
Who can believe the reasons the entities gave the public for using the technology when it was not made known to the public at the time it was used?
And, as someone once said, “whatever the government presents as its newest technology to the public, one can bet the advancement is years ahead.”
City law enforcement officials already threw the civil liberty concerns out of the window, going so far as to hide it from other city officials as happened in Baltimore.
How many other cities could be using this technology without city government and/or public knowledge?
Now, not only are the emails, cell phone messages, cell phone call contents and other data being gathered by government with the knowledge of the people, the people have to contend with their every movement possibly being tracked by law enforcement, private corporations, and anyone who can afford to pay for funding for this technology in any city in America.
While it is repeatedly stated the technology cannot identify individuals, can we rely on that as fact knowing the system has been used secretively and current advancements in defense technology are not revealed to the public?
If a satellite flying hundreds of thousands of miles above the Earth can render images that can determine the color of a car on the ground, are we really to believe these cameras cannot identify specific individuals from 10,000 to 17,000 feet in the air?