Oakland, CA Police Will Build City-Wide "Spy Center" With Surveillance Cameras, Maybe Drones

By the middle of next year, Oakland, California will likely have a city-wide central surveillance center to monitor citizens at all times. 

In a 6-1 vote last month, the Oakland City Council agreed to move forward with the creation of the Domain Awareness Center: a central surveillance hub for law enforcement in one of the country's most dangerous cities. The "spy center" will pull data from a web of interconnected monitoring devices strewn throughout the city and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

zigazou76/Flickrzigazou76/FlickrAccording to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Domain Awareness Center started as a federal anti-terrorism project for the Port of Oakland, but is now expanding into a city-wide program.

The Domain Awareness Center, a joint project between the Port of Oakland and city, started as a nationwide initiative to secure ports by networking sensors and cameras in and around the facilities. The busy port is one of seven U.S. maritime facilities that the Department of Homeland Security considers at highest risk of a terrorist attack.

Since its inception in 2009, the project has ballooned into a surveillance program for the entire city. Some officials already have proposed linking the center to a regional Department of Homeland Security intelligence-gathering operation or adding feeds from surveillance cameras around the Oakland stadium and arena complex.

The center will aggregate information from an array of existing surveillance methods, including thousands of security cameras owned by the city and private businesses, license plate readers, gun shot detectors, crime-mapping software, and Twitter feeds. 

Oakland residents vigorously protested the Domain Awareness Center, citing privacy concerns and a lack of trust in police. 

Joshua Daniels, one of the speakers during a July city council meeting, said the surveillance center would give significantly more power to the police department, which he believes “doesn't respect the rights” of Oakland residents. 

“This city has a huge trust issue,” Daniels said, “and it's not going to be solved by spying on your citizens.”

West Oakland resident Magdalena Kazmierczak agreed, "I don't want to live in a city that is testing this giant surveillance system, because I believe it is going to be used to criminalize normal existence." 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have also stated their opposition to the center, on the grounds that there are no privacy guidelines in place or limits on how much collected data the city will retain. 

This is all happening in the same city where, earlier this year, the county sheriff proposed purchasing a drone that can virtually see through walls with infrared technology. The drone plan was tabled following a series of complaints over privacy concerns by groups like the ACLU and Alameda County Against Drones, but it may be brought up again.

The Domain Awareness Center however, will almost certainly still be constructed. Oakland will allocate $10.9 million in federal grant money to create the new center. The city also plans to apply for an additional $2.6 million to create several new law enforcement positions.  

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  • Rich||

    The center will aggregate information from an array of existing surveillance methods, including thousands of security cameras owned by the city and private businesses, license plate readers, gun shot detectors, crime-mapping software, and Twitter feeds.

    I predict (some) people in Oakland will start wearing old license plates and constantly setting off firecrackers.

  • Almanian!||

    Saw "47 Ronin" this week - not bad. Son made me watch a couple of the later Star Wars movies I hadn't seen. Fucking AWFUL. How can Natalie Portman be so fucking awesome at age 12 in "The Professional" and turn into Carrie Underwood in the two Star Wars movies.

    Now watching "Man of Steel" - boring, derivative.

    Why are so many modern movies shite?

  • Rich||

    Ask the Domain Awareness Center.

  • Almanian!||

    Oh, also saw "The Hobbit, Part Deux" last week - good. Yeah, it was too long - but it's hard even for a modern moviemaker to fuck up a good story.

  • R C Dean||

    Why are so many modern movies shite?

    Because they are made for (a) teenagers and (b) foreign audiences. Both of these push the movie down to the lowest global teenage common denominator.

    I think it really hurts the script and dialogue. The sorts of nuances that make a really good script/dialogue are lost on people from different cultures, not to mention mush-for-brains teenagers, so . . . lowest common denominator.

  • IDPNDNT||

    I would say its a bit unfair to act like more movies are shit today than they were in the past.

    It's easy to claim that movies in the past were better long after you forgot about the shitty ones.

    Kind of like the things were manufactured better fallacy simply because a few things lasted through the years.

  • ||

    There were tons of shit movies produced years ago that would only see local drive-in circuits and the like, so you're correct. However, RC is correct that Hollywood's bigger movies tend to be pressured by the production companies to be, shall we say, more accessible to foreign audiences because such a large percentage of blockbuster box office comes from foreign sources at this point. That's not to say that a sophisticated movie like The Dark Knight can't get made and go on to make a ton, but there's a reason we have the Michael Bays and Roland Emmerichs of this world; their movies make money by appealing to low common denominators. And it's sensible business for the studios to pursue; their job is after all to make money.

    But that is one reason for the widespread blandness of so many Hollywood big-budget films today.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Because you see or hear of all current movies, while you only remember the old ones which were good, and the good parts of the old ones which were bad, and the old ones which were so atrocious that they are fun to remember.

    Same reason there's so much good music on the oldies stations, and so many good old reruns on cable. The crap doesn't survive.

    Same reason foreign movies seem so much better, if you like that sort of thing -- they don't ship the crap ones over here or waste money subtitling or dubbing them.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Residents of Oaktown will be much happier when they realize that they exist for the benefit of (and indeed, at the pleasure of) their social betters in the local government. Once they understand that their "rights" are merely whatever scraps of human dignity their masters allow them, they will be all the more thankful for having such merciful overlords in the first place.

    Also the Raiders suck.

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    The Black Hole sounds like it is gonna get a little darker.

  • Almanian!||

    Race. IST.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Has anyone been watching The Returned? Damn if that town doesn't have surveillance cameras EVERYWHERE. And Dieu merci they do, because otherwise how would they have found those zombie serial killers?

    NO SPOILERS I'M ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH.

  • Hugh Akston||

    [Spoiler alert] Turns out the movie sucks.

  • Floridian||

    I'm sure if this was proposed in an upper class white town it would still be okey-silly-dokey.
    /sarc

  • R C Dean||

    It would. The pearl-clutching soccer moms would love, love, love it.

  • Floridian||

    Until their special little soccer player is arrested for being out after state curfew. Then we will need reasonable laws.

  • Rob||

    Are we talking about the same Oakland where citizens have resorted to hiring their own security because there are no police?

    Joshua Daniels, one of the speakers during a July city council meeting, said the surveillance center would give significantly more power to the police department, which he believes “doesn't respect the rights” of Oakland residents.

    More correct would have been "doesn't respect the rights of Oakland residents."

    The police are unable to address the crime problems, but somehow creating a fancy Domain Awareness Center will fix that? Where exactly does the money to implement, staff and maintain the center come from? How about adding police officers?

    This reminds me of when my high school installed cameras to catch drug dealers in the school. But they never had anyone watching the monitors and nothing was being recorded. I remember going through the school and mapping the blind spots (e.g, no cameras in the stairwells). It was fun being persona non grata after pointing out the administration's failures.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Where exactly does the money to implement, staff and maintain the center come from?

    You and me.

  • nailzer||

    I wonder what the count will be by the end of the first week of people flipping off the cameras?

  • ||

    "....I believe it is going to be used to criminalize normal existence."

    The wet dream of every statist ever. I bet when Daniels said that every city council member came in their undies.

  • RishJoMo||

    This makes a ll kinds of crazy sense man, I like thi like it.

    www.BeinAnon.tk

  • Grumpy Old Timer||

    One more reason to never set foot in the land of nuts.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Nothing left to cut!

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