Miami-Dade Looking To Implement Aerial Surveillance System Throughout County

Miami-Dade police are looking to deploy sophisticated aerial surveillance in effort to track both people and vehicles involved in crimes. 

The proposal, first reported by  Miami New Times, would hover a plane high above high-crime neighborhoods to film everything below. Similar strategies are already being used in Baltimore and other cities.

The plane would be capable of photographing everyone within 32 miles from its position in the sky, granting police the opportunity to pull footage after a crime occurs and to recreate where the perpetrators came from before the crime and where they fled afterward.

Authorities are comparing the process to a DVR, allowing them to "play back" a crime to see what happened. 

The technology has spark a national debate on civil liberties as it pushes the edge of what’s possible in mass surveillance. The camera system tracks how the U.S. pursued suicide bombers in Iraq, and the American Civil Liberties Union has called it “terrifying” for the potential to record every citizen’s movement when he or she is visible from the sky.”

But advocates for the aerial surveillance note current technology limits people to pixelated blurs on surveillance footage — limiting the ability to physically identify a suspect.

Miami-Dade’s is now taking the first steps in a process that would lead to votes on establishing a permanent aerial surveillance program, including inviting companies to bid on the contract and a commission vote to award it.

With Miami-Dade spanning nearly 2,000 square miles, a surveillance plane flying 25,000 feet in the air would need to focus its cameras on a small piece of it at one time to capture footage within its 32-mile viewing field. 

That’s likely to put some of Miami-Dade’s poorest neighborhoods under heavy surveillance while more affluent areas are ignored. 

County police plan to deploy the surveillance in high-crime areas, which tend to be neighborhoods with lower incomes.

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