Residents of Dayton, Ohio, may soon see something besides birds when they look up into the sky.
In order to assist law enforcement agencies, officials with the Dayton City Commission are planning on signing a $120,000 contract with a local security company that will put surveillance planes in the sky. The service will be provided by Persistent Surveillance Systems if the deal gets signed.
Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) currently operates in the Dayton area watching over private properties. If the city ends up inking a contract with the company, PSS will be asked to look for illegal activity in public places.
According to PSS’s Ross McNutt, Dayton would be able to access a feed from a video camera on a plane cruising around the city at a height of 10,000 feet. The plane (and the pilot flying it) will assist local police in monitoring activity taking place on the ground, according to RT.com.
The city may choose to use a program called “Trusted Situational Awareness.” PSS claims that this system can collect real-time data and imagery and also provide “valuable forensic intelligence” to law enforcement officials.
The American Civil Liberties Union is not a big fan of the proposed plan. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, had this to say: “'Forensic intelligence' usually means something like keeping records of everything everybody is doing so we can go back and carry out retroactive surveillance whenever we need it.”
In a statement, the ACLU said: “These planes are able to monitor an area four times as large as Dayton’s downtown. The rapid-fire cameras used on the plane make the captured data more like film than still photos. Police can zoom in on any part of the image, in real time. This means that they could track your car down the street or watch you swimming in your backyard.”