The Washington, D.C., government plans to begin centralized monitoring of about 5,000 security cameras it maintains throughout the city, giving emergency-management officials a broad look into schools, public housing, and other sites, the Washington Post reports. The city says the system will save money and provide 24-hour monitoring, rather than the sporadic attention in the current patchwork of camera systems.
Civil liberties advocates expressed alarm. “Having it all together in one place brings us one step closer to the kind of scary movie scenario where they can track somebody moving across the city,” said Art Spitzer, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. D.C. police will continue to watch their 73 surveillance cameras in high-crime neighborhoods, part of a center to monitor an array of other closed-circuit TV cameras, including nearly 3,500 inside D.C. public schools, 131 used by the Department of Transportation and 720 used by the D.C. Housing Authority. The growing use of security cameras across the country has drawn criticism, with residents fearing violations of their privacy. Such cities as Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia do live monitoring. The establishment of the broader network of cameras in Washington, D.C., was first reported by the Washington Times.