May 31, 2006

Big Brother comes to The District

No, Janis Joplin's backing band isn't reformed and appearing in downtown Rock Island. But that city's taxpayers will be billed close to $80,000 to provide several surveillance cameras in the district in Rock Island.
Camera installation began in early May after the city council approved a $77,784 bid. Wireless ports using the same fiber-optic line wired to the security cameras will be completed later this month. Tim Bain, Rock Island's assistant director of information technology describes the installations as “a technology package to enhance downtown."
The unblinking eyes of the cameras are part of a package that also will provide wireless internet service to the District area as well, I suppose for all of you who have notebook computers with wireless cards who like to do... stuff... on your computer while your sitting on a bench or in a bar... I guess.

At any rate, wi-fi service is consdiered a "must-have" feature for progressive towns, and so in that respect, Rock Island is a bit ahead of the curve, at least in the area. They've already established wi-fi "hotspots" in the downtown library, city hall, and the Martin Luther King Center. Plans are to provide the service to branch libraries as well.

But the very expensive cameras, installation, and system won't even be monitored at all times and will only serve as ways to investigate incidences after the fact, much like the ubiquitous security cameras at convenience stores.
The cameras aren't intended as deterrents and won't be monitored at all times, police chief John Wright said. They mostly will be used for follow-up investigation.

“It won't be the solution to all our problems, but it will help us," Chief Wright said.
Coupled with the expense, kinda makes one wonder why they're needed at all.

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