Surveillance targeted to convention / Wide network of cameras

Monty Solomon monty at
Sun Jul 18 03:52:57 PDT 2004


Surveillance targeted to convention

Wide network of cameras planned

By Ralph Ranalli and Rick Klein, Globe Staff  |  July 18, 2004

An unprecedented number of video cameras will be trained on Boston
during the Democratic National Convention, with Boston police
installing some 30 cameras near the FleetCenter, the Coast Guard
using infrared devices and night-vision cameras in the harbor, and
dozens of pieces of surveillance equipment mounted on downtown
buildings to monitor crowds for terrorists, unruly demonstrators, and
ordinary street crime.

For the first time, 75 high-tech video cameras operated by the
federal government will be linked into a surveillance network to
monitor the Central Artery, City Hall Plaza, the FleetCenter, and
other sensitive sites. Their feeds from cameras mounted on various
downtown buildings will be piped to monitoring stations in the Boston
area and in Washington, D.C., and officials will be able to zoom in
from their work stations to gather details of facial descriptions or
read license plates.

With Boston Harbor just a few steps from the arena, the Coast Guard
will be using its new ''hawkeye system" -- in place in one other port
in the nation -- to watch area waterways. The network of infrared
imaging, radar, and cameras that operate in both day and night
conditions will give security officials a real-time picture of the
harbor, and provide agencies an early warning if an unexpected ship
enters area waters.

An unspecified number of State Police cameras are also being
installed, and more than 100 previously existing MBTA cameras will
be used to monitor area subway and bus stations. Law enforcement
officials will have as-needed access to as many as 900 cameras that
have been operated for months or years by the Massachusetts Port
Authority, the state Highway Department, and the Big Dig.

Civil libertarians warn that the latest technology will be used to
scare away protesters and others exercising their rights under the
First Amendment. The critics complain that there are few state and
federal laws regulating the use of video surveillance in public


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