Chicago’s thousands of surveillance and ‘red light’ smart cameras

March 12, 2012

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(AP/Paul Beaty)
Views from surveillance cameras at the 18th District Chicago Police Station; Chicago is under closer watch than any US city.

Former Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security Michael Chertoff once said, "I don’t think there is another city in the U.S. that has an extensive and integrated camera network as Chicago has." Chicago may be the most heavily surveilled city in the nation. Surveillance and smart cameras, like the so called “red light cameras”, number in the thousands. If you add in private camera networks the city has potential access to, the number could jump into the tens of thousands.

And a report last year by the Illinois chapter of the ACLU, titled Chicago's Video Surveillance Cameras: A Pervasive and Unregulated Threat to Our Privacy, warns Chicagoans of potential threats to privacy under the watchful eyes of the city's growing surveillance camera system.

Today, Worldview talks with Rajiv Shah, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Shah specializes in public policy implications from the design of communication technology. His main focus is video surveillance. Rajiv writes about Chicago’s camera and video surveillance culture in his blogs, Eyeing Chicago and InHardFocus.

Rajiv will talk more about Chicago’s surveillance culture on during a presentation called "Chicago's Spy in the Sky." It begins at 6:30pm on March 13, 2012 at the Chicago History Museum as part of its “In the Know” series.

WBEZ is a media sponsor of the In the Know series.