High-tech is increasingly used by police departments, but some have gone so far as surveilling citizens via software that calculates a citizen’s threat score.
Intrado, the company behind the threat-scoring software, says Beware “sorts and scores billions of publicly-available commercial records in a matter of seconds – alerting responders to potentially dangerous situations while en route to, or at the location of, a 9-1-1 request for assistance.”
In much the same way as the Harris Corporation keeps the lid tightly sealed on the details of its Stingray cell-site simulators and trackers, Intrado considers the how’s of Beware calculating threat scores to be a “trade secret.” However the Washington Post said the program scours “billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches” as well as a citizen’s “social- media postings.” The calculated threat level is color-coded with green, yellow or red as the highest warning.
The Washington Post visited the Fresno Police Department’s $600,000 Real Time Crime Center where Beware is being used. The Post reported:
On 57 monitors that cover the walls of the center, operators zoomed and panned an array of roughly 200 police cameras perched across the city. They could dial up 800 more feeds from the city’s schools and traffic cameras, and they soon hope to add 400 more streams from cameras worn on officers’ bodies and from thousands from local businesses that have surveillance systems.
The cameras were only one tool at the ready. Officers could trawl a private database that has recorded more than 2 billion scans of vehicle licenses plates and locations nationwide. If gunshots were fired, a system called ShotSpotter could triangulate the location using microphones strung around the city. Another program, called Media Sonar, crawled social media looking for illicit activity. Police used it to monitor individuals, threats to schools and hashtags related to gangs.