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Oakland OK’s Surveillance Center: Cameras, Gunshot Detectors, License-Plate Readers

In a vote that launched a city council meeting into chaos and forced police to clear the chamber, the Oakland City Council approved a new 24-hour surveillance center aimed at curbing rising crime. The project, passed by a vote of 6-1, will involve the installation of surveillance cameras, gunshot-detection microphones, and license-plate readers around the city to improve police response time. The center would also create a city-wide surveillance system that would link together all of the new cameras and systems, traffic cameras, crime maps, and even Twitter feeds.

The project is expected to cost about $11 million and is also intended to improve response time to terrorism, earthquakes, fires, and accidents.

The vote, held Tuesday, drew ire from the concerned citizens that showed up for the city council meeting. As a vote was approaching, protesters in the chamber began to chant “Table it! Table it!” Pat Kernighan, the City Council President, was forced to call a vote, yelling over the chants. All but one councilperson voted in favor of the center and the chants turned to “Shame! Shame!” After the vote, police were called in to clear the chamber.

“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,” said Magdalena Kazmierczak, an Oakland resident. “Nobody in Oakland wants to be monitored 24/7,” said Oakland resident Ryan Rising, “I see it as a pilot program for other cities to build their own surveillance centers.”

Other cities have, indeed, been implementing similar technology. Police in Portland have not only set up surveillance cameras around the city but are now using remote-piloted drones to monitor the city from above. Eight states have also authorized the use of drones by police departments.

Last year, New York City partnered with Microsoft to develop the Domain Awareness System which doesn’t simply record activity, it immediately brings up data on faces that it recognizes. The system is made up of 3,000 cameras, mostly located in downtown and midtown Manhattan.

(Image courtesy of Hustvedt)

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Igor Derysh is the Managing Editor of Latest. com and a syndicated columnist whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sun Sentinel, and AOL News. His work has been criticized in even more publications. Follow him on Twitter @IgorDerysh