Solving Cities

In Maryland, cameras to watch camera vandals

In Maryland, cameras to watch camera vandals

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At what point do we start going overboard with surveillance cameras?

In Maryland, Big Brother is watching you (and the camera that's watching your car).

In Prince George's County, a neighbor of Washington, D.C., people are getting fed up with speed cameras (or is it the bad traffic or the bad drivers) that take pictures of the license plates of speeding cars and send hefty fines to their registered owners.

Already, since April, one speed camera has been shot, another was flipped over, and one was set on fire. And at costs between $30,000 and $100,000 this is not technology a community wants to regularly replace. So the county is turning to some familiar technology to try to solve the problem. And this is where things start getting meta. WTOP reports:

[N]ow there's a new solution: cameras to watch the cameras.

One is already in place, and Prince George's County Police Maj. Robert V. Liberati hopes to have up to a dozen more before the end of the year.

Wow.

And what will happen when someone vandalizes the camera that's watching the camera watching your car? I'm afraid to find out.

I understand the importance of a speed cameras. From an anecdotal perspective, I can say they really do help slow down drivers. And when they don't do the trick, cities in the region are making a huge profit. Prince George's County is expected to bring in $8 million this year from the cameras, while D.C. made $55 million(!) last year, and Baltimore made $20 million.

But at what point are we going overboard with surveillance? I'm not sure, but this comes close.

Photo: Flickr/puck90

(h/t The Atlantic Wire)

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure