Sunday, February 26, 2006

Houston "Someone is Watching"

Feel like you're being watched?
That's probably because you are.
Police Chief Harold Hurtt sparked debate with his recent proposal to install surveillance cameras downtown, at apartment complexes and even at some private homes to combat crime. But cameras already are rolling all over the city: at rail stations, schools, malls, highways, banks and convenience stores.
"In a big city, it's increasingly hard to go throughout the day without being captured on many surveillance cameras," Daniel Solove, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in privacy issues, wrote via e-mail.
Indeed, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has a video camera on top of the Binz Building downtown to monitor Main Street — the same strip where the Houston Police Department hopes to install surveillance cameras.
Shoppers at the Galleria are monitored by camera both inside and outside the mall. Drivers on freeways managed by the Texas Department of Transportation are caught on tape. Commuters at Metro's rail and transfer stations and inside trains, and also soon at Park & Ride lots, are watched on screen from miles away. And if you're cheering at Toyota Center, you can bet you'll be watched on video.
Schools, too, use camera technology to monitor students. A man who police say sexually assaulted a student in a Westbury High School restroom Feb. 9 was caught on one of the school's 128 cameras as he entered the school, though authorities have not arrested a suspect. And officials at Westfield High School used images from a surveillance tape to identify students in a fight.
Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based privacy-advocate group, said most of those people don't know they're on camera.
"Oftentimes they are concealed purposefully, even in public places, so people don't know or aren't aware that they're being surveilled," Rotenberg said. "They often don't know who's watching them."
Pedestrians on Main Street had mixed feelings this week about the potential for cameras keeping an eye on them.
"I think it's a great idea to cut down on the crime," said a man who identified himself as S. Walter and said he has been mugged three times in the past two years. "I don't mind them watching me at all." (more)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Vancouver Transit Looking at High-Tech Makeover

VANCOUVER -- Bus riders in the Lower Mainland are one step closer to being under a video camera's watchful eye with a $35-million deal that puts computers and satellite trackers on buses.

Yesterday, regional transportation authority Translink announced a contract with German company INIT Innovations in Transit Inc. to perform a sweeping upgrade of the bus fleet's communication systems.

By 2007, global positioning systems will allow bus drivers and their dispatchers to pinpoint the positions of each of the system's 1,300 buses to within a few metres.
That means drivers can know when buses are behind or ahead of schedule and can take action to compensate, said union representative Jim Houlahan. He also said improved communications will make passengers safer and are a vast improvement over an obsolete, analog system.


Lynx Pilots On-Board Wireless Security Program

The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) has partnered with CyberPath Inc., a producer of Ethernet switches and networking equipment, to pilot a wireless security network on a LYNX bus.
CyberPath's EtherPath switches connect to wireless access points along the bus route to receive transported audio and video information from wireless cameras on each bus. Information is passed along a fiber network to a central command location for security analysis.
The pilot program was initiated by the Federal Highway Administration and is managed by the Florida Department of Transportation as a model intelligent transportation system called "iFlorida.”
The project is funded through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and the state of Florida.


Chicago Sold on Video Security

As Mayor Richard Daley pushes to increase video surveillance in public places across the city, a Tribune/WGN-TV poll has found that the city's security cameras have overwhelming support among Chicago residents.A newer proposal that would require cameras in thousands of businesses has far less backing but still enjoys support from most poll participants.

The city's surveillance network includes more than 2,000 cameras in such sites as transit stations, streets and public housing complexes. Included are about 100 police devices, featuring flashing blue lights, on utility poles in high-crime areas.Critics have voiced concern about the growing number of electronic eyes, but Daley has made it clear he wants even more. And he contends that Chicagoans want them too, something the Tribune/WGN survey seems to support.

The poll of 700 voters, conducted Feb 10-13 by Market Shares Corp. of Mt. Prospect, found that eight out of 10 respondents favor the video security network.The support cuts across racial and ethnic lines, with 80 percent of white respondents, 77 percent of African-Americans and 83 percent of Hispanics saying they like the cameras.The poll has a 4 percentage point margin of error.Gwen Rivera, a poll participant and Northwest Side resident, recalls the video images of a young girl being abducted by a man in an out-of-state case that made national news. (MORE)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

US group implants electronic tags in workers

An Ohio company has embedded silicon chips in two of its employees - the first known case in which US workers have been “tagged” electronically as a way of identifying them., a private video surveillance company, said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police.
Embedding slivers of silicon in workers is likely to add to the controversy over RFID technology, widely seen as one of the next big growth industries.

RFID chips – inexpensive radio transmitters that give off a unique identifying signal – have been implanted in pets or attached to goods so they can be tracked in transit.
“There are very serious privacy and civil liberty issues of having people permanently numbered,” said Liz McIntyre, who campaigns against the use of identification technology. (MORE)

Proxim Wireless Raises the Global Bar in Broadband Wireless Networking With Tsunami(R) Product Enhancements

Proxim Wireless Corporation, a global provider of broadband wireless equipment and wholly owned subsidiary of Terabeam, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRBM), today announced that its Tsunami(R) MP.11 point-to-multipoint product line has been enhanced with features including WiMAX Quality of Service (QoS), roaming with seamless handoffs at speeds up to 200 km/hour, and dynamic frequency selection (DFS) which has already received EN 301-893 v1.3.1 certification. The MP.11 is capable of supporting converged voice, video and data transmission in fixed and mobile applications, bringing capabilities of the WiMAX IEEE 802.16e standard to market now, for the 2.4 GHz, 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands available globally. These enhancements also apply to the Tsunami QB.11 point-to-point product line, and existing MP.11 and QB.11 installations can even be upgraded in the field. (MORE)