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LAPD Surveillance Cameras Go Unused

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the unopened-mechanized-eye dept.

Crime 106

First time accepted submitter Ethanol-fueled writes "Most of the surveillance cameras installed downtown and operated by the LAPD have not been working for two years, according to interviews and records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Many of those broke and were never repaired, and six cameras allocated to the Little Tokyo section weren't even plugged into the LAPD's monitoring bank. In one case, a 53-year-old man died after being stabbed and beaten in Skid Row — right below one of the malfunctioned cameras. It probably also didn't help that the cameras themselves were prone to being coated with pigeon droppings and the system backend being stored in a room so small that overheating was frequent. One LAPD Deputy Chief compared the situation to buying a used car without an extended warranty — 'We know the reasons it doesn't work. Now we're trying to make it work.'"

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106 comments

Whats new? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494036)

I'm sure all the politicians were patting each other on the back the day they installed it. And I'm sure their Security industry golf buddies got a nice contract and sent a fat kick-back.

I don't think anyone is surprised no one actually gave a damn about it.

Spending, not solutions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494088)

Indeed. Government has already made their money here. Once agan, I feel the need to point out that in the business of government -- where they spend other people's money -- there is no such thing as a loss. Even when they fail completely, they still win. Every dollar raked through the business of government increases their leverage, and their ability to exploit that cash flow for personal gain. It's no wonder that every year government costs more, both in terms of revenue and administration: that's exactly how the game is played, and that's exactly the kind of people who would desire power over others in the first place.

Re:Spending, not solutions (5, Insightful)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494314)

This has absolutely nothing whatever to do with "government".

Companies are every bit as stupid as this, installing "new technology" because some dickhead at the top insisted on it, and omitted to make any provision for its continued operation. Everyone in IT knows this (see ./ articles passim).

And let's not have any blather about "responsibility" either: companies are just as able to cover up the stupidities of their senior execs as government offices are.

And while we're at it, let's skip the rubbish about "other people's money". Companies spend and mis-spend other people's money with impunity* every day — how the fuck do you think we got into the current recession? It sure as hell wasn't governments doing all those shady hedge fund deals with borrowed money; it was banks: those wonderful much-vaunted joint stock limited-liability business-can-do-no-wrong corporations, run by greed-raddled execs and owned by greedy or ignorant stockholders who actively or passively encouraged their activities.

* Yes, impunity. The people responsible have been rewarded for their misdeeds, just like the cretins responsible for the government mismanagement which enabled it.

This whole "let's just blame the government" nonsense is simply a blind cooked up by corporate shills trying to cover up their own ineptitude. The governments are equally to blame with the corporates for their foolishness and stupidity. Blaming just one of them alone isn't simply incorrect, it's dangerous.

Re:Spending, not solutions (5, Informative)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494836)

I'm glad you got modded up, I would have if I hadn't commented elsewhere in the thread. I work in the physical security industry (key cards, alarm systems, cameras, etc.) and it never fails to amaze me the new and inventive ways that corporations find to waste money just in my field. A local power company (not our customer) spent what I would guess to be $30,000 to put a camera and alarm system on a pole yard, but didn't spend the $5,000 to finish the fence across the back side of the lot. Cameras and alarms were from one chunk of budget, fencing had to come from maintenance and facilities budget. One example of many.

Re:Spending, not solutions (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495310)

What happens when a business loses enough money that it goes out of business? It goes out of business. What happens when a government agency loses enough money that if it were a business it'd go out of business? It keeps making mistakes and often gets rewarded with increased fund or power for making those mistakes. (Eg, the federal government through several mistakes let terrorists take down the World Trade Center towers. Laws like the Patriot Act "fix" that by giving them more money and power.)

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495430)

The company goes out of business only to be replaced by another company run by the same crooks. To make it even more interesting, these same crooks are also being installed into various government positions where they can ligitimize their criminal activities.

My parents were swindled out of a $50k deposite on a home by a businessman who bankrupt his business three separate times, each time personally making off with large sums of money. When suit was brought against him, his government friends stept in to make sure he could not be held responsible.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496426)

The company goes out of business only to be replaced by another company run by the same crooks.

My parents were swindled out of a $50k deposite on a home by a businessman who bankrupt his business three separate times, each time personally making off with large sums of money. When suit was brought against him, his government friends stept in to make sure he could not be held responsible.

So you try to make a claim about serial fraud in business and shortly thereafter the involvement of government shows up. To create lasting injustice, you need someone with more power than a mere business can muster.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38497222)

So you try to make a claim about serial fraud in business and shortly thereafter the involvement of government shows up. To create lasting injustice, you need someone with more power than a mere business can muster.

And who got called in to stop the serial fraud in the first place? The government, via the justice system. Who got called in to make that behavior illegal to begin with? The government.

To create lasting justice, you need someone with more power than a mere business can muster.

And of course, when you elect a bunch of pro-business (often operating as nominal libertarians of one kind or another) hooligans into office - especially on the local and state level - you get predictable results: lasting injustice.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497434)

To create lasting justice, you need someone with more power than a mere business can muster.

That's right. Look in a mirror. That's one of the people who's responsible for lasting justice.

And of course, when you elect a bunch of pro-business (often operating as nominal libertarians of one kind or another) hooligans into office - especially on the local and state level - you get predictable results: lasting injustice.

Ah, a libertarian bash. Hooligans disguise themselves as plenty of ideologies. But certain ideologies such as the ones that speak of "fairness" or using the government to fix everything seem particularly susceptible to exploitation.

Re:Spending, not solutions (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499660)

You missed an important subtlety. He said operating as nominal libertarians. That is, they call it libertarianism but it's really just putting business interests (or more likely crony) above individual rights.

As for hooligans, I find they come in all stripes and will change the ideology they espouse as necessary. They truly care for nothing but the power and money they can grab.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505112)

You missed an important subtlety. He said operating as nominal libertarians. That is, they call it libertarianism but it's really just putting business interests (or more likely crony) above individual rights.

I doubt Mr. AC complains as much about nominally progressive hooligans.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497270)

*My parents were swindled out of a $50k deposite on a home by a businessman who bankrupt his business three separate times, each time personally making off with large sums of money.*

Of course, there's something to be said in favor of due diligence when putting down $50k deposits. Your parents should have done due diligence, but didn't. The government has no incentive to even try... after all, it's not their money.

Re:Spending, not solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38499550)

What happens when a government agency loses enough money that if it were a business it'd go out of business?

Its managers get fired, and it goes through a bankruptcy process not all that dissimilar to a company, with creditors snapping up properties of value, and some debts getting written off. The process isn't as different as you'd think. The main difference is that the customers are stuck with a new entity with the same old structure and much of the old cruft to blow out before things can pick up. Oh, and that the very same political trends which put the first set up fuck-ups in place is likely to vote for more fuck-ups cut from the same cloth, but oh gosh, that never happens in the corporate world, does it?

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505148)

Its managers get fired, and it goes through a bankruptcy process not all that dissimilar to a company, with creditors snapping up properties of value, and some debts getting written off.

Name a US government agency that has experienced this. There are some publicly owned corporations such as Amtrak and the US Postal Service that can experience bankruptcy. But the FBI, Social Security, or the US military can't.

Re:Spending, not solutions (2)

Bartles (1198017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495218)

Companies didn't take other people's money at gunpoint. And when they foolishly spend other people's money that other people gave to them voluntarily, they go under like they're supposed to, making room for other companies that aren't so foolish. At least that's how it used to work. Now risk is rapidly being removed from the market, profits are privatized, and losses are public. Welcome to fascism (economic variety).

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499712)

Yes they do. They just do it by proxy.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495230)

This has absolutely nothing whatever to do with "government".

Companies are every bit as stupid as this, installing "new technology" because some dickhead at the top insisted on it, and omitted to make any provision for its continued operation. Everyone in IT knows this (see ./ articles passim).

The only problem with your claim is that the Los Angelos Police Department is a government agency not a company (at least, yet). So observing that companies occasionally make bad decisions is irrelevant. Second, enough failure in a business and the business goes away. The LAPD will still be kicking until Los Angelos ceases to be a going concern.

And let's not have any blather about "responsibility" either: companies are just as able to cover up the stupidities of their senior execs as government offices are.

The obvious rebuttal is that corporate executives go to jail for the sort of stuff that governments pull routinely (such as understating or not even bothering to state future liabilities, and the ever favorite conflicts of interest).

And while we're at it, let's skip the rubbish about "other people's money".

What rubbish? That you don't have even a shred of a counterargument and thus, try to ban this obvious rebuttal using rhetoric alone? There's no way to say the words without making you look like an idiot, but just because OPM is a vast problem in the private world, doesn't somehow mean it isn't similarly a vast problem in the government world. At least in the private world, most OPM can be moved around.

Further, almost every cent a government spends is obtained via involuntary taxation. While many businesses live on money they earned by voluntary trade.

This whole "let's just blame the government" nonsense is simply a blind cooked up by corporate shills trying to cover up their own ineptitude. The governments are equally to blame with the corporates for their foolishness and stupidity. Blaming just one of them alone isn't simply incorrect, it's dangerous.

Not for government actions. This "We're all to blame" excuse fails hard when the people who made the screwed up decisions were all in government.

Please keep in mind for the next time you want to knee-jerk to an anti-government rant, that businesses can go bankrupt rather easily when they screw up. In the end, some people can be hurt by the bankruptcy, but it's a fairly clean way to remove the problem and return viable parts of the business back to society. It happens all the time.

Further, what goes on in the business, generally stays in the business. Society isn't threatened because Coca Cola or GM decided to do something remarkably stupid.

Governments can just tax more to cover for their bad decisions. Eventually, they'll tap out, but society will be far more messed up than any group of business bankruptcies could manage. Los Angelos is a great case in point. The city probably won't turn around in the next generation. I think the result will be another Detroit (as it currently exists), a failed city that lingers on while virtually everyone with any sense or wealth has fled for better places.

Re:Spending, not solutions (0)

registrar (1220876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499014)

Governments do go out of business. They lose elections, and the cronies they appoint end up working honest jobs. And they don't spend "other people's" money, they spend our money because we choose to give it to them to spend. You don't have to like democracy, but that's how it works. If you would rather live in e.g. some libertarian utopia, by all means go and set up your own.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504030)

They don't even have to set up their own, there are two already waiting for them; Haiti and Somalia.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505178)

Governments do go out of business. They lose elections, and the cronies they appoint end up working honest jobs.

That doesn't happen in the US. For example, the CIA and NASA haven't ever lost an election.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495872)

This whole "let's just blame the government" nonsense is simply a blind cooked up by corporate shills trying to cover up their own ineptitude. The governments are equally to blame with the corporates for their foolishness and stupidity. Blaming just one of them alone isn't simply incorrect, it's dangerous.

Some years ago, when I was preparing to leave academia for a much better-paying job in "industry", I read a rather timely bit of "advice to graduates". The author predicted that nearly everyone present would, after a few months in their first job, slowly come to realize that the company was incredibly incompetent, especially the people at the top who had little if any understanding of how their company worked but still gave orders to their underlings. Many of you will eventually ask yourself "How could this business continue to operate at a profit?" And the smarter of you will realize the answer: Every other company in the field is just as incompetent and bungling and poorly managed as this one. That's the only way to explain their continued success.

The writer's conclusion was that humans are not actually capable of behaving intelligently in groups of more that a few. All human organizations are in fact incompetent, to the point of near idiocy for the larger ones. This is the only way to explain the behavior of most human organizations.

A more geeky formulation that I've run across is that the intelligence of a group of humans is an inverse function of the number of people in it. Exactly what this function is doesn't seem to be known, and may well vary from group to group. And a few organizations have stumbled across a sort of anti-Peter-Principle, of learning what each individual is good at, and keeping them in jobs where their expertise is helpful rather than promoting them to their level of incompetence. But this is usually only partly successful, at the lowest "hands-on" level, and mostly in small organizations.

I wonder if anyone has actually worked out the inverse-intelligence function(s) for any organizations. It could be interesting to read about.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496346)

When this analysis is applied to whole civilizations you get this wonderfully reassuring treatise [amazon.com] .

True, but far worse for government (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496652)

The thing is that while what you say is true, most companies have a large degree of incompetence, it's a self-correcting problem - because companies have limited funds they can only become SO incompetent and still survive at all. While it's true in large groups humans allow incompetency to thrive through inaction, people are also capable at times of working around incompetence when it matters. Companies really function more often than not because of the 3% of employees who know where and how to bend the rules to make things function.

Governments on the other hand are a far worse problem. There is no natural limit to failure, when you start to run out of money you just raise taxes (or fees or "assessments"). When something so massively screwed up as the total failure of a monitoring system happens NO ONE is fired (they would be in a company if it were found half the cameras were not working even after just one incident). There is no bending of the rules so things simply cannot work efficiently as there is no going around increasing red tape.

The proof again goes back to the cameras in question. Can you really imagine ANY private company where a vast number of physical security measures simply do not work at all?

Re:True, but far worse for government (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497572)

The proof again goes back to the cameras in question. Can you really imagine ANY private company where a vast number of physical security measures simply do not work at all?

Sure. There's even a market for fake cameras or at least there used to be. Real ones may have got so cheap that it has ceased to be worthwhile. Even if we assume a flawlessly run company its entirely possible that they have broken security stuff that wasn't worth scrapping when it became obsolete or experimental stuff that turned out to be not worthwhile but was never removed.

In real companies non working gates (or gates simply left open) and broken CCTV is entirely possible (does security even have a maintenance budget?). How often is the burglar alarm actually tested? Urban explorers show that for larger sites there tend to be ways in.

Very different - they ARE working as designed (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497772)

Sure. There's even a market for fake cameras or at least there used to be.

Putting in fake cameras is utterly different than deciding a camera is really needed somewhere and then letting it break without repair or even knowing what is broken!!

In real companies non working gates (or gates simply left open) and broken CCTV is entirely possible (does security even have a maintenance budget?)

OF COURSE physical security departments have maintenance budgets. Something like that broken is fixed in days, if not hours.

How often is the burglar alarm actually tested?

Most companies have regular tests of all security systems.

Re:Very different - they ARE working as designed (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504314)

Hee, hee, you're funny. If there isn't a government agency or insurance company breathing down their neck "something like that broken" is fixed in weeks, if not months/years/ever. Stockholders don't give a shit if 100 bottles of Oxycontin disappear from the pharmacy since it's covered by insurance, but $15,000 to install a camera system to catch the thief, and $10,000 to install security to prevent the next theft comes off the bottom line and affects the share price. In the real world stockholders and the board that represents them care more that the landscaping looks good to customers than whether the loading dock is properly secured.

Re:True, but far worse for government (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504246)

Can you really imagine ANY private company where a vast number of physical security measures simply do not work at all?

Yep, our company has dealt with several. Normally the situation arises because the original system was installed incorrectly by the maintenance/facilities staff, ignored or actively sabotaged by IT, and covered up by managers and executives that have since moved on. Generally when the customer finds out what it's going to cost to bring things back up to the level of 'functioning adequately', much less 'functioning correctly', they freak out and say "Never mind."

Admittedly, my employer almost never competes on price (there are plenty of shitty installers who are cheaper than we are), but you probably don't realize how much these systems cost to install and maintain correctly, much less monitor, the training involved, and how much work needs to be done to create procedures and protocols to ensure that the correct actions are taken at appropriate times (false alarms can cost thousands of dollars each).

If no one is fired over this it will almost certainly be because there are no guilty parties available to fire. Fuckups like this are easy to see coming, especially since all the technical people involved will have been complaining every step of the way. I'd bet that if you poked around on Linked-In you'd find someone taking credit for the creation of the public/private partnership that got these cameras installed, and that it won't be a techie. It will be some PR/marketing flack who has since moved on to the private sector, and who is probably specializing in creating more of these abominations.

The difference (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496600)

If in a private company you spend a lot of money on a system that totally doesn't work, eventually there are problems and people find out and things change.

Companies often can overspend or get people who get kickbacks from suppliers, yes. But in the end even though they may have overpaid they get a system that roughly at least works.

In government as we can see from this story there is NO limit to the scope or size of failure that is simply accepted with a shrug, and there is no responsibility whatsoever - because in government you are playing with funny money where in a company the people at the very top are losing real money if they let corruption and incompetence continue without end.

Re:Spending, not solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38502052)

I think you are right. Government rarely spends a dime unless it is to assist one of its 1% buddies in
making money at the expense of the "fenced in" by rule of law 99%. But in this instance, you might discover the HLS interest, the oil and gas interest, the automobile after market interest, and other members of the 1% gangs are interested to see the lights installed in every city in America because such lights are important means to strangle small business efficiency [eliminates serious competition], are important to extending and expanding oil and gas demand in cities, are important auto parts industry demand extenders [stop and start at a light wears parts out quicker], and are important to keeping safe the 1% during periods of civil unrest. In fact, it was the cell phone tracking and traffic signal cameras that contributed to Gadaffi's demise.
I estimate each traffic light at the average intersection cost the people at the intersection [usually local residents] about$250,000 per year. $250k would fund nice bond issues to build overpasses [constructing them would not only save money, but also create hundreds of thousands of government public works jobs at a time when they are needed].
The HLS, DOE, and the private after market auto industry, and oil and gas industries are not interested in the things that improve the quality of human life; they want only to find ways to enhance the 1% at the expense of the 99%. The 1% are after all the feudal lords.

Re:Spending, not solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495602)

That one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. It never occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, the government is funded in fiscal years and that maybe, just maybe, the recession forced cuts which affected this system. Without a proper budge maybe, just maybe, they had to focus there efforts on maintaining a force on the street and cut back on paying for maintenance and people to monitor the cameras. The greatest shame here for the government is a moron like you has the same voting power as me.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497582)

Or someone dug out that UK report (where there is really a lot of experience with CCTV) that concluded the things were pretty useless for both crime prevention and detection.

Re:Spending, not solutions (1)

elbonia (2452474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38500120)

Cite it or it doesn't exist

Re:Whats new? (0)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494256)

Actually, this article signals people to complain "you need to spend more money and be more serious about surveilling us!"

Ethanol-fueled (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494040)

First time accepted submitter Ethanol-fueled writes

Really? I am quite sure there have been stories by him before. He's a known long-time Slashdotter, after all.

Re:Ethanol-fueled (1, Offtopic)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494248)

he is user 1125189.. he is not a "long time slashdotter" with a 7 digit UID.

Re:Ethanol-fueled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494326)

Uhm, _my_ current UID is seven digits but it's the 5th or so. Sorry, slashdot isn't all that important to me so I tended to lose my passwords eventually. You cannot establish "not a long time slashdotter" from a high UID!

Re:Ethanol-fueled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38496190)

I lurked here for years before I was motivated enough to actually create an account; even now, I post AC more often than I log into the fucking thing just because I don't care enough to do so at that moment. UID is just as arbitrary as any other measure.

Re:Ethanol-fueled (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496596)

mmm, I certainly agree that a high UID is not proof of a new member, but I have to disagree that a UID is arbitrary. For it to be arbitrary, a new sign-up might get awarded an abandoned and now recycled low UID.

To me, a low UID is proof that a member created an account a long time ago*, but doesn't mean they are a long time slashdotter, since they could well have signed up years ago, forgot all about the site until recently and been able to log in using that old account.

Similarly, a high UID to me is proof that their account was created recently, note that this says nothing about when the person first discovered the site, if the person had been a regular reader prior to creating that account. It certainly doesn't rule out the possibility of the member having multiple accounts with a range of low and high UIDs. When all is said and done, no a high UID is not proof of recent membership, but I think it is fair to say that it is highly suggestive

* I seem to recall that a while back there was a charity auction where one item up for bid was a low UID. The winner of that auction would be an obvious exception to the rule of UIDs being created and assigned in strict numerical order. As far as I know however; that would be the only exception.

Re:Ethanol-fueled (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494868)

You must know my history here to be surprised. I'm admittedly surprised that my submission was accepted. In fact, I just stumbled out of bed still reeking of booze to find this, and it's apparently not a hallucination.

But seriously, guys. Not only did I live in Los Angeles for 3 years, but I wanted to address the "theater" part of the security theater as it relates to the trend of installing municipal cameras. Criminals will realize that they're bullshit and continue to, well, be criminals. The cop(s) assigned to watching the cameras could have instead walked the beat, arrested criminals, and got real work done.

Re:Police Work (2)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495208)

Historically, a beat cop's job was to go around and black-jack the thugs into the shadows and make the street safer for the tax-payers. Somehow a confluence of enforcing numerous new laws and civil-rights lawyers for the unlicensed thugs has made actual public service a lower priority; A pretext now, actually- if crime rates continue to fall, expect new laws to criminalize more of the tax-payer class as they are much safer and more convenient to arrest and incarcerate than professional felons.

Big Bro (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494046)

Big Brother is lazy.

wear and tear (3, Informative)

Christopher_Wood (583494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494084)

I've worked with cops and I'm not terribly surprised - "excessive" wear and tear was always a problem. This isn't the first expensive system I've heard of being kept in a closet. Give it a few years and the dust might have been a factor too.

(I'm not sure if it's actually a surveillance state if nobody's looking through the broken cameras.)

Re:wear and tear (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494104)

(I'm not sure if it's actually a surveillance state if nobody's looking through the broken cameras.)

The purpose of a surveillance state is to encourage fear and intimidation and conformity and servility. You don't need to actually use the cameras to infect society with those values... just install them. Its to intimidate the permanently downwardly mobile middle class and the 60's radicals now turned grandparents, not to scare the lower class criminals.

Re:wear and tear (2)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494330)

You don't even need to install them.
If you look at your local store, there are domes EVERYWHERE in the ceiling for camera's, but only a few have a camera in them..
The very thought that you MIGHT be watched makes most of us behave better.

Re:wear and tear (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495622)

I went to school in a pretty bad neighbourhood, and trust me criminals knew perfectly well that those cameras were there just for show. People got robbed in front of them every other day. Luckily a law was passed that required the police to have at least one policeman watching the cameras all the time, and there were cops close enough so they could come when needed, which made it a little better. But cameras are just tools, they won't solve the problem just by themselves.

Re:wear and tear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38497664)

"Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."
-Nineteen Eighty-four, by George Orwell.

Spending, spending, and spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38497942)

The purpose of a surveillance state is to encourage fear and intimidation and conformity and servility

Not before spending money. If they can't justify spending, the "business" is lost.

the purpose is fear, not surveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494122)

I don't think that surveillance was ever the purpose. Fear is the purpose: if we fear we are being watched then we are easier to control. It reminds me of the old East Germany. The secret police were overwhelmed with reports from citizens: they were effective not because they could actually see and respond, but because they could SOMETIMES see and respond, and nobody knew when or where. Fear does the rest.

Re:wear and tear (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494132)

I've worked with cops and I'm not terribly surprised - "excessive" wear and tear was always a problem. This isn't the first expensive system I've heard of being kept in a closet. Give it a few years and the dust might have been a factor too.

(I'm not sure if it's actually a surveillance state if nobody's looking through the broken cameras.)

Wait for courtroom commentary on some preventable crime, and they will hire tube watchers from the gaming industry.

Volunteer Watchers (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494658)

They won't have to pay anyone. Go down to the closest retiree hangout and ask people if they want to help 'prevent crime' or 'stop criminals' or some such buzz words and you'll have more volunteers than you know what to do with. Several Seattle-area municipalities are doing this and the politicians love it, since it gets the people who are most likely to vote involved in a program connected with their name. The programs have actually done absolutely nothing at all to reduce crime, but the PR boost is priceless to a career pol.

This situation really does sound like the LAPD got some money that they had to spend or it would evaporate (probably from Fatherland Security). The major expense, the initial installation, has already come out of someone's pocket. Now that server and storage virtualization are cheap it should be fairly easy to implement a major backend upgrade to make the system usable.

coated with pigeon droppings

WTF??? The moron installers didn't even use a $1.50 chunk of bird spike to keep the housings clear? I bet I could name the company that did the installation then, our company has been hired numerous times to come along behind and clean up the mess left by their 'low bid' installations.

Re:Volunteer Watchers (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496022)

WTF??? The moron installers didn't even use a $1.50 chunk of bird spike to keep the housings clear?

Like the cameras, installing "bird spike" isn't always as effective as its sellers might tell you. A few years ago, a local historic church had a bird problem. The main doors opened onto a large covered walkway, the width of the build, which had the usual decorative ledges and decorations that were excellent bird perches, and they decided to Do Something About It. They installed bird spike on top of the ledges.

The local sparrows, starlings and pigeons understood just what this was for. They started bringing in large amounts of nesting material and jamming it between the spikes. This worked really well, and the ledges were quickly covered with a long, narrow bird nest used by more birds than you'd believe. You can imagine how well this went over with the churchgoers.

After a few years of trying to make it work, the bird spikes were removed.

Re:Volunteer Watchers (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496664)

That's hilarious. There are various flavors of bird spike with different applications. The best stuff for ledges that I've seen aren't "spikes" so much as angled wires that touch the ledge on the bottom and the wall at the top. Birds can actually land on it, but it's an uncomfortable perch (they slide down) and nesting material falls off. Standard bird spike would let a bird grab a spike while leaning on the wall, which lets them bring in nesting and other material. Cameras generally stick out from the building, so there isn't any way for anything larger than a finch to be stable on it. There are all kind of specialty spike types that I've seen in catalogs, including some fairly unobtrusive stuff designed to be put on statues without being too obvious.

Re:Volunteer Watchers (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498048)

Electrified bird spike? Shouldn't be too expensive until the current arcs, right? (Which should happen less often as time goes on.)

Re:wear and tear (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494258)

Like when cop car cams were starting out and they were getting "broken" a lot? Yup, I remember those days in the 90's right after rodney king. the VCR in the trunk would get bashed, or the tapes would get magnetized a lot... (big honking magnet on the casing will screw it up badly)

Re:wear and tear (1)

immaterial (1520413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495656)

Not just In the 90's. Even nowadays somehow the cameras in 7 separate police cars can "malfunction" simultaneously: http://www.theagitator.com/2010/08/12/when-police-videos-go-missing/ [theagitator.com]

Re:wear and tear (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496838)

I've known cops who either leave it turned off (on the few models that it can still be done manually) or turn it sideways so they're never taped.

A city overrun... (-1, Troll)

malv (882285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494118)

by dumbshit Mexicans.

Re:A city overrun... (1, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494200)

A city overrun... by dumbshit Mexicans.

Now be fair. The cameras wouldn't have worked any better in a city overrun by dumbshit Niggers, Muzzies, Paddies, or Dagos either.

Re:A city overrun... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494350)

Don't forget the dumbshit Crackers, or Wops, or Wogs, or Abbies, or ABCD's, or Beaners, or Camel Jockeys, or Ching Chongs, or Chugs, or Coonasses, or Dinks, or Flips, or Frogs, or Gaijin, or Golliwogs, or... hey did I miss anyone else?

Re:A city overrun... (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495156)

hey did I miss anyone else?

The Martians.

Re:A city overrun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495682)

The Honkeys.

Re:A city overrun... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498124)

or... hey did I miss anyone else?

Yeah, apparently H through Z, minus W?

Re:A city overrun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38502020)

You also missed the Slopes, Chinks, Nips, Jerry's, Micks, Squaws, Apples, Kikes, Wetbacks, Honkey's, and probably a few others as well.

Wha? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494150)

"compared the situation to buying a used car without an extended warranty "

No, more like buying a new car and leaving it at the dealership, taking the keys. At best, it gets vandalized. At worst, it gets hotwired, joyridden, used for a few drivebys, and then stripped and vandalized. Oh, and you're still taking the bus.

Dumbass. He can't even illustrate the fail properly. Who gets fired for this? Oh, let's guess...

Yep, right again.

Re:Wha? (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494194)

At least we know where BadAnalogyGuy works now.

It was designed to fail (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494218)

Bet you $100 that it was designed to fail from day 1. it was under funded, someone that has NO education at all in tech was in charge of it, and everyone involved that had a clue was ignored when they voiced their concerns.

This is typical of ANY local government project. some idiot in finance believe he can cut corners to bring the costs down.

Re:It was designed to fail (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494426)

I doubt it was designed to fail, it was designed to make money. Unfortunately it needed to be designed to work. Even more unfortunately unless you have already done a job that has taught you all the lessons you need to have learned before implementing a project like this, you can't really hope to do it without some studies (at least product testing.)

Re:It was designed to fail (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494764)

I'd bet 5 to 1 that it was not 'designed to fail', but was designed without the cooperation of the IT department. Those of us who do this type of work are used to having to work AROUND the people that we really need to be working WITH, since they don't want any more on their plate then they already have. I've had an admin quite literally tell me, "I don't know anything about that server, I don't want to know anything about that server, and you can't MAKE me learn anything about that server." (After I pointed out that it ran the access for their server room door he paid a bit more attention.)

This has nothing at all to do with being a government project, I know of a local hospital that spent $50,000 for a video monitoring system. Since IT wouldn't have anything to do with it we had to spend another $5,000 on switches to make its own network. The only room that IT would let us have was an unvented storage area. Hard drives fail left and right every time it gets over 80 degrees outside.

After six years in the physical security field I'm FINALLY beginning to see cooperation coming out of IT departments. Gigabit network links, storage and server virtualization are cheap now, and with consolidation in the industry admins are finally starting to look for more work rather than less.

Re:It was designed to fail (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494784)

I meant 'outsourcing' rather than 'consolidation'.

Re:It was designed to fail (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495188)

To be somewhat fair to "IT"...

I had a customer I was sole support for business IT. They had a processing facility with an old analog camera system dating from the early 1980s. They needed to replace it as components were failing and the video quality was pretty poor. It got done, but the vendor was a hack and the equipment super low budget whitebox PC stuff.

Anyway, the lesson I've learned is that "video surveillance" may use IT technology, but a lot of the people doing it really aren't skilled at IT, they're at best low voltage wiring guys, at worst just all-around hacks.

The general problem is that IT is tasked to keep the overall network & server environment running at a given level of service. Management (often some facilities person, far outside the IT reporting hierarchy) then hires an unknown entity that works at a level way below this who wants the network changed to suit their project, and usually for dumb reasons "we put the video server in closet X because it meant shorter runs to the cameras, but the archiving server is on the other side of the building." Why do you think IT doesn't want to cooperate?

It can get done right -- somebody from facilities engages with IT management BEFORE the contract is signed and IT reviews the requirements of the project to make sure the network will support it without upending the entire network or engaging in something really dumb. But it usually doesn't. The surveillance guys lowball the quote, facilities signs it, and the install gets started and then IT gets a bunch of bullshit thrown at them. They say no, the vendor says the job won't finish without more money, and facilities and IT go to war.

Re:It was designed to fail (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496598)

That's true with a **LOT** of our competition (most?), but I've did ten years of server and network support before getting into the security industry, and two of the other three application engineers I work with are only slightly behind me. I've raised enough of a fuss with the estimating and sales guys that I'm generally called in pretty early in the process if there are going to be any questions at all, and we make a point of going out of our way to bring in the IT staff as early as possible, even when it's going to be an entirely private network, to keep them appraised of what is going into their facility. It's gotten a lot better the last two years, especially now that gigabit networks are predominant, but there are still an awful lot of shops that don't even WANT to know what's going on.

The chief is a moron. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494232)

""compared the situation to buying a used car without an extended warranty ""

it seems that the Chief is an idiot, as 90% of the time the extended warranty is a waste of money and you come out ahead if you did not buy it and banked the cash. Consumer reports and tons of other places have this well documented...

The chief must not read much.

No, perfect analogy (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496696)

it seems that the Chief is an idiot, as 90% of the time the extended warranty is a waste of money and you come out ahead if you did not buy it and banked the cash.

The chief was just saying that he wished he could have funneled even more money to his friends in companies back then, since there is no money now and thus fewer opportunities for kickbacks.

So it really is like an extended warranty since he wanted to spend even more money at time of purchase for no reason.

A bad thing? (5, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494234)

My deepest and sincerest sympathies to the family of the murdered man but are cameras really the answer? How about more cops that know their beats and actually engage people without being dicks? That may actually make a real difference.

Re:A bad thing? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494292)

are cameras really the answer?

The answer to what? Are cameras the answer to muggings and murder? No, not at all -- muggers will just do their "business" faster and learn where the blind spots are.

Are cameras the answer to convincing the public that the police are doing something, while simultaneously convincing them that something needs to be done? Absolutely.

Re:A bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494436)

How far we've fallen that the cynics are always right.

Re:A bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38496628)

Cynics have always been right. It's just that recently, MBA programs have started teaching graduates that self-deception and convincing pretenses are expensive folly which cannot demonstrate value when evaluated quantitatively.

Reality has a selection bias where cynical ideas are depressing & unpopular, therefore under-represented in the spectrum of human communication.

You can always tell which subculture of society is about to be crucified at the alter of resource scarcity when angsty teenagers make it fashionable to parody the scapegoat niche's lingo.

Re:A bad thing? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495696)

A single well trained cop could monitor a dozen of cameras simultanously, so yes, they are effective when used properly.

Re:A bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495996)

A single well trained cop could monitor a dozen of cameras simultanously, so yes, they are effective when used properly.

Effective at what? Fighting crime? Ha. The criminals will just plan a little better and work faster. What you will accomplish is further dehumanizing people and furthering the advance of the "us vs. them" mentality. We need to put cops on the streets. Have them politely interact with the public. Make inner-city youths actually want to be on the side of the good guys. Holing a bunch of cops in rooms with wall to wall surveillance video will only further serve to dehumanize and disenfranchised the watched. Do you jokes even stop to think about the social implications of your armchair quarterbacking BS at all?

Re:A bad thing? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504766)

Why in the world would you spend $80,000 to put a cop to watching cameras when a $30,000 "security contractor" (recent high school grad video gamer) could do the job better? Seriously, you wouldn't want to waste a cop doing this, it's the wrong skill set. Really though, video cameras are only good for forensics, no one ever gets caught in the act because they were seen doing something on camera.

Re:A bad thing? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504970)

Because the guy needs to be trusted, needs to be able to determine when he sees a crime and when the police should intervene, and if it does with what force, needs to be able to communicate with policemen already there and act as a recon etc. It's not just sitting on your ass all day long.

no one ever gets caught in the act because they were seen doing something on camera.

Which is not the fault of the cameras, but how they are used. They are not a replacement of cops, just tools.

Re:A bad thing? (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495910)

Look at the UK. There is no crime anymore in the UK thanks to all the cameras. Right?

It amazes me how people think that they know what criminals would do. There are two kind of criminals. The ones that are in it because they are lazy. They think short term only. They rob you or a bank with a mask. They want the money now and then they will spend it till they need money again.

These are the criminals we see and know and what we buy camera's for. The thing is, it won't work, because they believe they won't get caught. They do not think ahead. They do not think of others. They want the money now, they take it.

If anything, the camera shows theme where the money is, because otherwise there would be no camera. These are the criminals that make us make feel unsafe. They are the ones with the mask on in a bank, robbing the bank.

The other criminals are also in the bank, but on the other side. They are the real criminals. They think long term. They do not believe they won't get caught. They know they will be rewarded for taking your money.

Neither of them is botherd by the camera's.

Re:A bad thing? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498098)

There are two kind of criminals. The ones that are in it because they are lazy.

I actually mis-read this, and want to point it out: "The ones that are in IT because they are lazy." I've worked with many of them. (Agreed that the bankers are the scourge; what best to do about it, though?)

Re:A bad thing? (1)

davidshewitt (1552163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38496302)

The cameras did not deter the criminals who murdered the man because they either did not see the cameras or did not care that they were there. If the cameras do not deter criminals, than what are they really for? I doubt I'll like the answer to that question.

Re:A bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498554)

No, cameras are not the answer. But when it came time to rely on them for their promised purpose, it was even of no use to those ends. Not only are they not the answer, but they are completely useless for anything close to their intended purposes.

Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494278)

Given London has pretty much proved camera systems like this are useless when they DO work can't say this is much of a loss. Just turn the damn things off.

No surveillance (4, Interesting)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494308)

Look on the bright side, what with the police not liking themselves being filmed, what video evidence can there be of any police brutality with cameras not working?

Re:No surveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38496460)

would you like someone recording you every move. The police do not like it either
godly [slashdot.org]

Cops (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494324)

Ah, well, think of it like this. If the cops beat random citizens for recording them on cell phones...do you really think they want a city wide camera system that actually works? Of course not. They would probably be caught doing more illegal stuff than normal people, like beating random citizens.

whacky parse (3, Insightful)

minkie (814488) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494684)

I had to read the headline a couple of times before I realized it wasn't "LDAP cameras".

Re:whacky parse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495464)

Yeah...I hope they are LDAP...don't think native Linux systems break as easily...unless they were deliberately derailed/neglected/no longer wanted by the cops/gov't/citizens...which I don't think citizens are quick to say do-away-with-them after collaboratively paying millions for this system. I think it's more the banks fault for spinning the world into a do-and-die budget crisis. LA may not have the money to maintain as they had to move the monies elsewhere. A result of blind corporations leading the blind in budgeting practices. Not only that...BUT, the system can't even pay for itself...that I can see.

Use half of them to monitor traffic and you can devote that infraction money back into the system....or not, but it will give them motivation to keep the system maintained. Once that revenue starts coming-in they won't be so apt-to-opt-out of the project.

It's sad that I have a 9 year old Intel web cam that see's more action than the million-dollar IP based cam systems.

Security Costs (1)

andrewlivi (2273910) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494742)

False sense of security.... millions of dollars. Real security.... about $500 and a concealed carry permit.

Re:Security Costs (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494870)

Open carry is a lot more effective, the crook doesn't even have to guess whether you're armed or not. I've always wanted to just put my machete on my belt, but I know the police harassment would be worse than anything I'd get from the street gangs.

Re:Security Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38499144)

I carry a bowstaff because then girls know I have skills... even though my computer hacking skills are even more impressive

Re:Security Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38497958)

Yup, when everyone carries the crook knows he should just shoot you in the face before you have a chance to react - much safer that way.

Mo Money! (1)

Silver Surfer 1 (193024) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494806)

What is needed is more money, much more money. Only money can solve this problem. They need a new tax on all cell phones like the e911 tax. Once we have collected a few tens of billions of dollars will they be able to address this issue.
Do not worry about the cost though as I am certain right around election time a graph will show up explaining how this system will have saved us money due to the reduction in crime.

Money well spent!

Of course they will never have enough money so maybe more taxes and people will solve the problem. All of the money collected will of course go into the general fund and be allocated for more important things, hence always needing more money.

Surveillance society (1, Insightful)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494884)

Cameras not working.... this is a bad thing because....?

Other people's solution (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495052)

It isn't necessarily a waste of other people's money. I work for the Feds and see all sorts of waste that happens on 'good' ideas.
Surveillance of a high crime area is a good idea. But collecting data and saving it is not a police skill, it is an IT skill.
The issue is that many govt ideas (pushed by voters as much as contractors) entail new skill sets or new directions that a business might think twice about before pursuing but that any govt org gets no chance at all even for input once the voters/politicians decide.
Seriously, if you want to correct the issues of governance, identify the exact problem and quit spewing ideology of right, left or contractor 'malfeasance.'

Funny ways of wording things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495134)

FTA "But the system sometimes overheated because it was placed in a room the size of a closet."

A closet is "A small room or cupboard used for storing things".

They used this room for storing the system, so by definition they stored the system in a closet.

Fri57 psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495852)

anybody's guess To decline for NIGGER ASS8OCIATION over the same
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