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Cameras To Watch Cameras In Maryland 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-the-watchers dept.
Cornwallis writes in with a story reminding cameras everywhere that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching you. "Many people find speed cameras frustrating, and some in the region are taking their rage out on the cameras themselves. But now 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. 'It's not worth going to jail over a $40 ticket or an arson or destruction of property charge,' says Liberati."
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Cameras To Watch Cameras In Maryland

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  • um... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:58AM (#41335541) Homepage Journal

    That's a race condition if I ever saw one...

    • Re:um... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:43AM (#41336231) Homepage Journal

      One possible future: two giant cameras watching each other.

      (While everybody goes goes about their lives, unhindered).

    • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:27PM (#41336875)

      That's a race condition if I ever saw one...

      Sounds more like an infinite recursion, if you ask me:

      installMonitoringCamera(Camera cameraToMonitor) {
              Camera monitoringCamera = new Camera(cameraToMonitor);
              monitoringCamera.monitor();

              if(monitoringCamera.observesSomeAssholeSettingFireToMonitoredCamera())
                      installMonitoringCamera(monitoringCamera);
      }

  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Who watches the cameras that watches cameras?

    • they'll just have more camera to watch those .. ad infinitum ....

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        I'm not sure why it is inconceivable that both cameras are in each others' field of view, so that they watch *each other*...

        Not that it is necessarily the case, nor do I think this is a good idea... I'm just sayin...

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Which will mean higher power longer range attacks will be used. Thus endangering more people. I am not saying people should do that, but they will.

          • I somehow doubt people are using hunting rifles on speed traps, I further doubt that they would do that in america, but maybe I put too much faith in my fellow americans.. Now I would *not* be surprised to hear about this happening in the types of country where everyone walks around carrying high powered rifles all the time, but those countries have much larger troubles than speed traps anyways.
            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              I did not even mean hunting rifles. These kinds of cameras are not very high resolution, so even small caliber firearms have enough reach.

            • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by DJRumpy (1345787) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:35AM (#41336127)

              I would have to agree that you are putting way too much faith in us. I used to work at Mobile before it merged with Exxon, and it was right off the interstate. It was fairly common for bullets to hit the glass as high as the 14th floor.

              People love to shoot at things that irritate them, and these cameras are nothing more than revenue machines.

              "It costs us $30,000 to $100,000 to replace a camera. That's a significant loss in the program. Plus it also takes a camera off the street that operates and slows people down. So there's a loss of safety for the community," says Liberati

              Considering far too many of these speed cameras and the associated street lights they monitor, have been caught shortening yellow light times beyond federal standards to 'catch' people running the light, I would question their motives.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6he1M5wexic [youtube.com]

            • by crakbone (860662)
              I hear in the UK paintball guns are the norm.
              • by jeffmeden (135043)

                I hear in the UK paintball guns are the norm.

                Apparently, it's to hook a tyre (filled with a bit of petrol) around the elbow in the camera pylon, and then light it ablaze causing enough heat on the camera box that it will self-destruct. At least thats what this site suggests: http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm [speedcam.co.uk]

            • I'm having trouble finding a news story for it, so this will be anecdotal and uncited, sorry.

              Cameras in my town (near Philadelphia, PA) have been shot, run over and set on fire. I've heard of similar happenings in Texas so it wouldn't surprise me. And as further evidence that you either over estimate how responsible people are or under estimate how willing they are to protect their love of speeding our cousins across the pond in the UK have taken to destorying their Orwellian amount of surveilance camer
              • To be fair the one that ran over a speed trap was just trying a bit of performance art, he was aiming for irony and only missed slightly. Slightly.
              • by ArhcAngel (247594)
                I like to believe the more evil angle that the camera OEM is paying terrorists to destroy them...so they can sell more cameras.
            • by jeffmeden (135043)

              I somehow doubt people are using hunting rifles on speed traps, I further doubt that they would do that in america, but maybe I put too much faith in my fellow americans.. Now I would *not* be surprised to hear about this happening in the types of country where everyone walks around carrying high powered rifles all the time, but those countries have much larger troubles than speed traps anyways.

              You mean, like Switzerland? Yes, I agree, they do have bigger problems than speedsters, leiderhosen wedgies are horrible!

            • Given that 'bored and/or drunk hicks shooting at the fiber' is an actual cause of outages in rural runs, I'd be overwhelmingly surprised to hear that people aren't using hunting rifles on speed traps...

          • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by EdIII (1114411) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:46AM (#41336265)

            It can more simple than that.

            RC Helicopter. Just create a payload with a strong magnet. Fly by, stick it to the camera, and detonate. Small controlled explosion with no collateral damage. Even better, just design something to block the camera itself. Sticks on and is passive. No damage to anything.

            What about high powered lasers? Cameras can't be watching everywhere. Set a laser up to hit the camera over a longer period of time and it will be slow damage, but ultimately very effective. Has an added bonus that anybody caught while the camera was an impaired can effectively argue against the ticket due to the damage.

            I'm all for civil disobedience and the destruction of these cameras, but that's not an excuse to break out the ol' RPG.

            What would be the optimal solution is actual mass protests. Have real human beings blocking cameras and sensors with their own bodies. That stops the cameras from functioning and has the added benefit of a quite visible protest.

            • by Mitreya (579078)

              RC Helicopter. Just create a payload with a strong magnet. Fly by, stick it to the camera, and detonate. Small controlled explosion with no collateral damage.

              Talk about a geek site solutions
              Or, you know, you could just wear a mask or a baseball hat?

      • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ambvai (1106941) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:42AM (#41336217)

        It's cameras all the way down?

    • by Tackhead (54550)

      Who watches the cameras that watches cameras?

      Voyeurs and Xzibitionists.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Who watches the cameras that watches cameras?

        Voyeurs and Xzibitionists.

        Fans of famous rapper, actor, and ride-pimper Xzibit? Wow they are nicer people than I thought! Or, are they hoping that by watching out for these speed cameras, Xzibit will grace them with a pimped out ride?

      • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

        by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:24AM (#41335935)

        Who watches the cameras that watches cameras?

        Voyeurs and Xzibitionists.

        Yo dawg! We heard you like cameras. So we put a camera on your camera, so your camera can watch your camera!

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          LOL, you beat me to it.

          Of course, now they'll need a camera to monitor the camera which monitors the speed camera.

          Because if you take out the one which prevents you from vandalizing the speed camera, you can then vandalize the speed camera.

          It's a freakin' arms race.

    • Re:But... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Megahard (1053072) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:11AM (#41335737)
      It's cameras all the way down.
    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      class Camera
      {
      public:
      void watch(Camera * watched)
      {
      Camera* c = new Camera;
      watched->watch(c);
      }
      }
  • Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:00AM (#41335563) Homepage
    This is obviously the right way for our society to go.
  • Except... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:02AM (#41335595)

    There's no possible way someone would think of destroying the camera-observing-camera BEFORE the speed camera.

    Then you end up with TWO broken cameras, and didn't accomplish anything.

    • Re:Except... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metalgamer84 (1916754) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:05AM (#41335631)
      Common sense never seems to be a factor in these "bright ideas" that some panel of people came up with. Wasting money is what they do best, fixing problems is the least of their concerns.
      • Common sense would say, "Put each camera in the other camera's field of view."
        • by sjames (1099)

          Except that speed cameras are only allowed to take pictures of speeders, so they'll use TWO cameras, speed, watching the speed camera ....and one to watch the camera that watches the speed camera....they'll use THREE cameras.

          And then someone will wear a jumpsuit and a ski mask just to prove they can do it.

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            Or use, say, a gun, or a crossbow, or perhaps even a well-thrown rock, to destroy it from beyond its range of vision.

        • by daem0n1x (748565)
          This can only work if you can watch 360. How many cameras will it take?
    • by MagicM (85041)

      The solution is having three cameras in-line with the speed camera in the middle and the other two watching.

      Why did that get dirty all of a sudden?

    • There's no possible way someone would think of destroying the camera-observing-camera BEFORE the speed camera.

      Then you end up with TWO broken cameras, and didn't accomplish anything.

      Except anonymity of both crimes lol.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      ...or wear a ski mask...

  • Doesn't a simple strobe light work?

    • infrared laser pointers
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Mythbusters disproved the "blind the camera" idea. Along with everything else. They tried multiple ways to fool the speed camera and found nothing.

        • by sjames (1099)

          So the solution is to trick the camera into constant triggering.

        • by jittles (1613415)
          It depends a lot on the cameras. I used to work in the digital video surveillance industry. A lot of the "Low Light" cameras do in fact use infrared light to see in the dark. Some have lights built into them, and some are so sensitive that they can see just fine in black and white without much light at all. I would find it hard to believe that you couldn't blind the camera with some sort of light. If they close the aperture of the lens to compensate for the extreme brightness of a light, it would make o
        • i don't think a single one will work, a group of them though... maybe try those modded blu ray laser pointers? and don't believe everything you see on mythbusters, that show needs its own mythbusting sometimes.
        • by roc97007 (608802)

          I didn't see that episode. Did they try the slave flash idea? You put a high output flash pointing at where the camera(s) would be when you go through the intersection, with a slave sensor. The moment the traffic cam flashes, the slave goes off, significantly overexposing the image.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          Mythbusters disproved the "blind the camera" idea. Along with everything else. They tried multiple ways to fool the speed camera and found nothing.

          Do you really think that if they found one way that actually worked to defeat the speed cameras, that they would show that on Mythbusters??

          I kinda doubt it...

          • by Whorhay (1319089)

            I seem to remember an episode about cheating on urinalysis tests. At the end they said that they did find one semi valid way to do it but weren't going to disclose it and then pronounced it busted. Or maybe it was the breathalyzer episode... I just don't remember anymore.

    • by SomePgmr (2021234)
      I think we're talking about your average dumski making a right hand turn on a rolling stop (guilty, here). Not trained foreign agents with a Q in the wings to pre-emptively develop an automatic camera blinding system for your car. ;)
  • by jrmcferren (935335) <robbie.mcferren@gmail . c om> on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:06AM (#41335657) Journal

    Simply burn them. Here are burnt Gatsos in the UK: http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm [speedcam.co.uk]

    • I think you're completely missing the point. TFA is saying that they're putting up cameras to watch the cameras. You know, for when people try to do things like burn them.

      • by jittles (1613415)
        Or maybe he's going to burn the camera watching the camera, and then burn the camera? Or maybe he'll just wear a mask or a hat and a disguise?
        • That just makes it an arms race. Before long, you get a set of cameras that are mutually pointing at each other, transmitting to a remote recorder. A better solution is to just get the things taken down. A town near here just did that. It's possible, and if everybody hates the things, it shouldn't be too hard to do. I'm really in favor of people running lights getting tickets, not so much of cameras that just snap a picture and send you a ticket.

      • Simply burn the cameras watching the speed cameras first. The speed cameras are only allowed to record speeding violations when they occur.

      • I think you're completely missing the point. TFA is saying that they're putting up cameras to watch the cameras. You know, for when people try to do things like burn them.

        Why not fry it from a moderate distance with, say, a strong magnetron? The equipment could conceivably fit into a van with plastic bodywork, without anyone seeing what's actually going on. With a sufficiently directional antenna, the pulse could be quite reasonable for a mobile equipment. That would make targeting a bit difficult, but I guess the difficulties are not insurmountable.

  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:07AM (#41335673)

    ...camera watches camera!

    In the United States, it's the other way around.

  • by oic0 (1864384) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:12AM (#41335755)
    If anyone sees you destroying the thing you're going to get in trouble anyway, so we are assuming the people are doing it when no one is around. In which case, wear a mask, park where the thing cant see your car, and walk right on up to it lol.
  • ...and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."
  • First of all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:13AM (#41335765)
    The camera watching cameras are an easy target, and I don't think people really buy the safety crap anymore. Its a money making teacher and we all know it
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:13AM (#41335771)
    getting rid of revenue cameras would be easier instead of watching Americans like paranoid communists.
  • by Darth Snowshoe (1434515) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:16AM (#41335821)

    While I can't say I'm a fan of speed cameras, and in fact the thought of vandalizing them has crossed my mind on occasion, the two I encounter routinely in Baltimore County are right out in front of elementary schools with lots of cute little pedestrians around them. So, it's hard for me to be entirely critical of the effort - at least because it does what it's supposed to - it reminds me to slow down before I run over some kid. If instead they were everywhere, I would be much more in opposition to them.

    • by crakbone (860662) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:57AM (#41336417)
      An automatic speed bump would work with an instant penalty be easier to setup, cheaper, and would not need you to go down to a courthouse to contest. Do you really want to trust the safety of your children to a company that gets paid more if you go past the speed camera?
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      There are five in our town (part of a "trial period" that's lasted over ten years) and exactly zero are within six blocks of a school. They tend to be in busy intersections, and when I've seen them go off it's almost always because someone has followed a car into the intersection in heavy traffic and gotten trapped there when the light went red. Still a technical violation of the law (you're not supposed to enter an intersection until there is room on the other side to pass completely through) but arguabl

  • The Department of Redundancy Department.

  • This is why they make sniper rifles, high power lasers, and explosives with remote detonators. I would have added artillery and other sundry indirect-fire ordnance, but I'm not a big fan of collateral damage, meatsack or otherwise.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I thought about .50 BMG from a distance, but worried that the slug would pass through the camera and travel off for parts unknown. Wouldn't want to try it. It's important to remember that it's the government at fault, not the population.

  • Just mount a mirror so each camera sees itself. Then it will know when it's about to get smacked.
    Or even better, a real-time monitor so it can see itself seeing itself....

  • from the "UK-would-be-proud" department.
  • It's September. I'm sure the local REI has ski-masks in stock. Or better yet, the Halloween store for some Obama, Guy Fawkes, Joe Stalin, etc. masks.
    But then the spy-camera sales rep probably didn't bring that up when he and the town council went to that luxury resort for the weekend to discuss the camera contract.
  • From the article,

    Liberati says the cameras aren't a case of Big Brother nor a cash grab, police are simply trying to keep the public safe from reckless drivers.

    That's a hard sell; speeding tickets (et al) pay police/transit dept budgets. This makes it hard for the public to understand that the police are there to help. The problem with speeding is that it can be done safely, and there are plenty of people who regularly speed without risk of accidents. I've encountered more near-accidents created by Highway Patrol than by speeders (which is in part a public stupidity item -- the radar gun already clocked your speed well before you slammed on the breaks and forced the guy behind you to do likewise).

    I'm a stats guy. I would support these cameras if they were used for statistical purposes, and I do not support them due to the current money flow. Here is my modest proposal:

    • Make (and advertise!) a policy ensuring that fines from safety enforcement (by police officer or camera) do not help the enforcement budget.
    • Such fines would instead fund traffic flow analysis (and perhaps safe driver programs).
    • Not all cameras (and other sensors) need to generate tickets, aggregate data works just fine without the fine. Cell carriers have data on phones that can help calculate aggregate numbers for highways and don't need to correlate identities to provide it.
    • Traffic flow analysis is used to figure out how to safely reduce drivers' commute times. This could include
      • Increased speed limits where that is deemed safe
      • Dynamic speed limits (with digital signs) based on time of day and/or congestion level
      • Better signage (tell people what lane they need!)
      • Better use of HOV lanes (which must be 2+ lanes wide so you can pass idiots)
      • Synchronized traffic lights that encourage throughput
      • Synchronized traffic lights that discourage throughput, with signs telling people where to go for through traffic
      • Realigning turn lanes
      • Prohibiting certain items during rush hour (e.g. no left turn week days 4:00p-6:00p)
      • Construction to better rework an intersection or ramp, etc. (Funds from fines won't be enough here)
  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:37PM (#41337043)
    Many police officers find civil liberties frustrating, and some officers take out their rage on citizens. But now there's a new solution: cameras to watch the police.

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