They've Got a D.C. Eye on You


News from last week I think we missed, and a good reason for all my D.C. based colleagues to straighten up, fly right, and keep their eyes in the back of their heads: D.C. plans to expand its linked system of cameras to include private systems as well as public. From the D.C. Examiner:

The city's homeland security agency is planning to add thousands of security cameras from private businesses around the nation's capital and the Metro system to the thousands of electronic eyes that authorities are already monitoring 24/7.

D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency has already centralized the feeds from more than 4,500 cameras operated by the District's department of transportation and school system. Those feeds are watched around the clock by officials from those departments who sit together in homeland security's Joint All-Hazards Operation Center…..

A plan for 2011 submitted to the city administrator by HSEMA says the agency plans to centralize cameras at private businesses and those run by Metro and the D.C. Housing Authority. The plan doesn't have a timeline, and [HSEMA spokesperson Robyn] Johnson said there isn't one.

Homeland security says the centralized camera system is designed to be used to raise "situational awareness" during "developing significant events" like the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 or the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

At the very least, any meaningful actual monitoring of such an elaborate system will make a nifty makework program in these high-unemployment times. Helping us to, yes, Win The Future, and secure in knowing that we are being thoroughly watched as we do.

Past Reason coverage of D.C.'s cameras.