From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored.

Using a network of cameras that can read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

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The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to cover motorways, main roads, towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.

The details of 35 million number-plate "reads" per day will be recorded for at least two years and will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.

If the police and security services can show that a national surveillance operation based on recording car movements can protect the public against criminals and terrorists, there will be a strong political will to do the same with street cameras designed to monitor the flow of human traffic. The Home Office Scientific Development Branch in Hertfordshire is already working on ways of automatically recognising human faces in a crowd by computer.

Via Varnelis< The Independent 1 and 2.

Image from flickr 1984 pool.

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The purpose of the Counter-Surveillance Headdress, by Gloria Sed, is to empower the wearer by allowing him/her to claim a moment of privacy in the Big Brother world.

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The design of the headdress borrows from Islamic and Hindu fashion to comment on the racial profiling of Arab and Arab-looking citizens that occurred post-9/11. The design of the headdress is thus a contradiction: while its goal is to hide the wearer, it makes the wearer a target of heightened surveillance.

The laser tikka (forehead ornament) is attached to a hooded vest and reflective shawl. The laser is activated by pressing a button on the left shoulder of the vest. When pointed directly into a camera lens, the laser creates a burst of light masking the wearer’s face. The wearer can also use the reflective cloth to cover the face and head. The aluminized material protects her/him by reflecting any infrared radiation and also disguises the wearer by visually reflecting the surroundings, rendering the wearer’s identity anonymous.

For more information on "camera zapping" with lasers.

At the itp Winter Show, on December 18 and 19, ITP, 721 Broadway at Waverly Place, 4th Floor, South Elevators, New York.

The CCTVme prototype works like an analog ?rewall. It protects people’s privacy from outside attacks through the internal video camera.

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CCTVme is an acessory that comes with 3 sets of cards. Whenever you feel the need of privacy, you can manipulate what the other person is seing during the video conference by attaching to your videophone the CCTV object and selecting a card to block the caller's view through your camera into your private space.

You can choose between three sets of cards, each with three images. These sets are divided into different categories that talk about privacy, perplexity and anonymity. The objective is to show the calling person that each video call turns him or her into an attacker or invader of somebody else’s privacy.

More images.
Part of Martin Redigolo's Master Thesis at the Merz Akademie: Videophones - Influence, Impact, Future.
I met Martin while i was in Stuttgart last week. I had a great time over there thanks to Axel, Olia, Dragan, Christian, and Myriel.

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DoxPara have published revealing images of how much the world has been infested by Sony's DRM-rootkit. The data is based on DNS queries by the rootkits on individual people's computers. The information gathered from the servers was then combined with geo-data using PlanetLab to produce these gorgeous visualizations. I'd bet that Tufte loves it.

Via De:Bug.

Public recycling bins that use RFID to credit recyclers every time they toss in a bottle; pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect a fall and contact help; phones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions.

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In New Songdo City, a "ubiquitous city" being built in South Korea, all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental, etc.) share data, and computers are to be built into the houses, streets and office buildings.

When completed in 2014, the city's infrastructure will be a test bed for new technologies, and the city itself will exemplify a digital way of life, the "U-life." It starts with a resident's smart-card house key. "The same key can be used to get on the subway, pay a parking meter, see a movie, borrow a free public bicycle and so on. It'll be anonymous, won't be linked to your identity, and if lost you can quickly cancel the card and reset your door locks," aid John Kim who leads the U-city planning.

"Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea," said Anthony Townsend, a research director Palo Alto. "There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards."

"This is a competitive advantage for the Koreans," comments B. J. Fogg, of the Persuasive Technology Lab. "They will know before anyone else what flies."
"But I foresee that many services will fail," he added. "That's the nature of experimentation. They should be prepared for the frailties of human nature to emerge."

Via GHLee blog < The NY Times. Read also World Changing.

A team at the University of Tokyo's Center for Spatial Information Science has developed a system that evaluates walking patterns to identify individuals in crowded places such as train stations.

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It could be used for security systems that can detect suspicious characters, but also to analyze walking habits in order to design shopping districts that are easier to navigate. The team plans to partner with private-sector firms and hope the technology will be ready in two or three years.

The system combines floor-level laser beams with overhead cameras to isolate and track individuals. In tests monitoring 600 sq. meters of a crowded train station, the system isolated 80% of all passersby, even at rush hours, when about 150 people were milling about simultaneously.

With this technology, the typical walking pattern of the elderly could be used to determine where in train stations to place signs with larger, easier to read lettering. Retailers could also use the system to determine if people lingering in front of their window displays are stopping to look at their products or just stopping to talk on their phones.

Via Nikkei.

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