03 February, 2006

Bloomberg's State of the City speech

My attention was drawn to this statement:

Second, we will pilot new technology that uses microphones to instantly direct video cameras to the source of gun shots, ensuring that shooters are seen as well as heard.

I think that's a totally great idea. I don't like guns, granted. But I see some flaws with this technology. The first, of course, is cost. It's going to be quite costly to implement such a system in as large as city as NYC, covering all areas. That's the second concern, not every area is going to be covered. And finally, the technology: I find it difficult to believe that a system has been developed that will allow a video camera, operating on a mechanical basis, to "instantly" be directed to the source of gun shots.

What I do like about this, is that it will apply equally to all gun shots, including those by the police. This will help protect both the police in their legitimate use of police weapons, and the public in the illigitimate use of police weapons.

There's part of me that thinks this is a great idea because it will help protect people -- shooters probably would think twice between shooting off a weapon on the street knowing that a camera will be watching them.

But then there's a part of me that is very cautious about this idea, the fact that we are going to be monitored 24/7 in public spaces lends me to think of 1984 and Big Brother. It concerns me that we're moving closer and closer to a police state. It's going to be more difficult to commit the minor types of crimes and offenses -- those I don't believe should be criminalized at all to begin with, and escape prosecution. But it will assist in the prosecution of what I consider to be "real" crimes.