Surveillance

Adelina Lancianese / 90.5 WESA

Security cameras in Pittsburgh's South Side have helped lower the area's crime rate by 37 percent in the last year, according to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Frederic Bisson / Flickr

Starting this year, neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh are expected to get more surveillance cameras and gunshot detection devices, also known as ShotSpotter.

 

The city’s 2018 budget includes funding for a 30 percent expansion of an existing camera network over the next three years, and there are plans to deploy ShotSpotter over an additional 14.5 square miles.

 

Jose Luis Magana / AP

Pittsburgh's Public Safety Department plans to spend $5 million to upgrade and expand its citywide system of surveillance cameras.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the city council gave preliminary authorization Wednesday for a three-year $1.25 million contract to upgrade, maintain or replace many of the city's 225 cameras. Public Safety Department director Wendell Hissrich says they also plan to ask for about $3.8 million to buy and maintain 75 new cameras.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Automatic license plate readers – those cameras on police cars and light poles that capture plate numbers – have been in widespread use since the 1990s. But some argue regulations for how and how long police can use and store that information hasn’t kept up with the technology.

Noah Berger / AP

At least 15 states have allowed police agencies to pilot surveillance drones in the name of public safety, including one that can carry weapons.

This week on 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and host David Harris talks to the Cato Institute’s Matthew Feeney from his office in Washington D.C.

Chicago Police Department / AP

The last few years have exposed major problems in policing: use of force, high-tech surveillance and a systemic lack of transparency. Some police tactics have even been called undemocratic, because the public isn’t involved on the front end.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office / AP

Cell phone monitoring has come a long way since the likes of television shows like The Wire and CSI. But unlike fictional surveillance, some devices currently used by law enforcement don’t require a warrant... or any permission at all.

On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, host David Harris talks to Adam Bates, who studies the secret use of Sting Ray devices at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Street Sensors And Cameras In Pennsylvania: Urban Asset Or Privacy Concern?

Apr 4, 2017
Eleanor Klibanoff / Keystone Crossroads

Ever wonder about something you see or hear about where you live that you wish our reporters would explore? Here's your chance! You ask the questions, you vote on the questions you're most curious about, and we answer. Submit a question for us to investigate.

This round, Elliot Adler from Philadelphia asked about the cameras and sensors he's seen popping up more and more on roadways. He asked, "what are these sensors doing, how are they doing it, and what — if any — information are they storing?"

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Video cameras are filming the 2600 block of Brownsville Road in Carrick as part of a new wave of neighborhood watchmen.

Two years in the making, Councilwoman Natialia Rudiak announced Friday the start of a “Virtual Block Watch” in Carrick's business district. Fifteen business owners invested a combined $2,850 to purchase and install cameras outside of their locations directed at public thoroughfares, while Rudiak’s office provided $1,080 for signage.

After voting in favor of a 2015 budget amendment that would speed up the timeline for deployment of body-worn cameras for police officers, Councilman Dan Gilman on Wednesday held a post-agenda meeting on surveillance and privacy.

This CMU App Watches Boring Video So You Don't Have To

Aug 7, 2014
courtesy LiveLight

Say you have a large volume of digital video — hours of nanny-cam footage, perhaps, or a wedding reception.

And it’s boring, deadly boring. 

But suppose that, somewhere on that tape, something interesting does happen. Maybe it's just five seconds’ worth of attention-worthy images, buried under a mountain of redundant and predictable ones.

Michael Sias / Immunity Inc.

Edward Snowden is the source of leaks of government surveillance programs within the United States. Which have raised questions about our privacy and how much information the government is gathering about us by phone and on the internet. 

Mark Wuergler, Senior Security Researcher for the cyber security firm Immunity, says the NSA has the means and motive to spy on anyone. We'll talk with him about the NSA and security.

The government has been watching ever since the NSA was created. They've been finding and trying new ways of watching and listening and recording. And they're really good at it.