Monday, September 27, 2004

Eye In The Sky: I'll Be Watching You.....

And speaking of homeland security, the Associated Press has a story "about 100 employees of a little-known branch of the Defense Department called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and some of the country's most sophisticated aerial imaging equipment have focused on observing what's going on in the United States." The agency uses aerial photographs and 3D images, allowing security planners to virtually walk, drive or fly through any location in the U.S.

And although the Americas director, Bert Beaulieu, swears that the agency is not interested in information on U.S. citizens, civil liberties activists are not so sure.

Turns out private citizens aren't the only ones worried about the government spying on them. Even chemicals companies had their doubts, although they are getting more cooperative:
The NGA says it is working to build trust with the public and with private companies.

Before Sept. 11, for instance, chemical plants and other critical sites weren't as cooperative as they are today, out of fear that aerial photographs might be shared with federal environmental regulators. NGA officials say the Homeland Security Department has been careful to protect proprietary information.
Hello? Since when are environmental crimes considered to be "proprietary information?"

But never fear, "What if NGA analysts were to see an environmental crime?

"I don't think any of my people know enough to know an environmental crime," Beaulieu said."

Well, that's reassuring.

Personally, however, I think this technology could be put to much better use and save a lot more lives -- by locating every trench being dug in the United States and reporting them to OSHA if they're not being properly shored or protected.