96 percent of Americans in favor of video surveillance to counteract terrorism

A recent Harris Poll survey indicates that 96 percent of U.S. citizens feel the federal government and law enforcement agencies should be able to use video surveillance in an effort to counteract terrorism and help protect U.S. citizens in specific public places.

Four out of five adults feel that in extreme cases, such as a terrorist attack, the government should be able to use any available means to protect citizens, and more than half (54 percent) of U.S. adults are even willing to put a portion of the government’s stimulus funds toward setting up video surveillance to help reduce crime.

The online survey was conducted from May 28 through June 1, 2009, with 2,416 adults in the United States interviewed.

The results are at odds with current perceptions about the use of video surveillance, by revealing that only a small minority of Americans is concerned about the federal government or law enforcement agencies using surveillance cameras to monitor public places. That Americans don’t mind being watched is especially relevant in light of the recently exposed domestic terror plot in Boston, and subsequent FBI intelligence indicating that Al Qaida recruits are reportedly being encouraged to perform acts of terrorism inside the U.S.

However, citizen support of video surveillance rests on the assumption that more cameras will result in more secure environments, but that isn’t the case. Recently, the security staff at the George Washington Bridge in New York City—responsible for monitoring bridge cameras and security kiosks—was photographed sleeping on the job. Thus, camera proliferation alone (The New York Times estimates that London has more than 4.2 million closed-circuit TV cameras) will not solve the problem. Many of these cameras go completely unmonitored because there are simply not enough human eyes available to watch all of the video feeds.

“The widespread adoption of video-camera technology has not made the job of the security officer any easier, nor has it helped obtain actionable intelligence before an intrusion,” said John Frazzini, President of BRS Labs, and a former Secret Service agent. “We have been working with high-level security customers in the U.S. and around the world to put a new approach to work—behavioral analytics.”

BRS Labs’ AISight (pronounced eye sight) technology blends computer vision, machine learning and artificial intelligence; it sends instant and reliable alerts to a myriad of PDA devices, and is compatible with all legacy camera systems.

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