If you live in a major metropolitan area, the odds are good you’re being watched and listened to at all times. And even if you don’t, that surveillance technology is still there—in stores, on cop cars, in schools and stop lights. Everything you do in public (and sometimes in private) is watched and recorded somewhere.
Ingrid Burrington, author of Networks of New York , walked us through a slice of Manhattan to point out all the surveillance technology that surrounds city-dwellers.
“A single surveillance camera may not be that useful,” Burrington said, “But having surveillance cameras all over the place that can track the movements from somebody all over the city can be very useful.”
She went to 55 Broadway, a building that houses the “domain awareness system,” a place that pulls and stores data from the city’s surveillance cameras, license plate readers, and more. It’s run by the NYPD and developed in collaboration with Microsoft. She also points out ShotSpotters, devices placed around cities that detect gunfire and send the recordings back to an analyst to process. These devices can pick up conversations, too—in 2012, the conversation the recorders were used as evidence against two men in a shooting trial.
Being able to identify surveillance technology in public space doesn't make it magically make them go away, it doesn't make them stop doing what they’re doing,” Burrington said. “It is worth paying attention to, if nothing else for the fact that it’s kind of designed to be ignored—being able to understand the specifics of what kinds of technologies are being used by whome and against whom is important to being able to effectively challenge their uses.”