Civic News

Surveillance: No. 5 Baltimore tech trend of 2016

Feeling like you're being watched is very 2016.

The end of the year is a time to think about what’s next for 2017, but it’s also worth reflecting on how we got here. We’re looking back at some of the themes that kept coming up in our coverage of Baltimore’s tech community in 2016. See the full list of 2016 trends here.


The Baltimore Police Department is a world leader in surveillance technology, and 2016 was the year that people started to write articles saying that.
The city was one of the first to reveal use of the stingray cellphone tracking device last year, and 2016 brought more public debate than we previously saw through hearings in the state’s General Assembly and courts.
But it was Bloomberg’s revelation in August that a small plane was circling the city taking wide-angle images that brought an already-simmering debate about the line between safety and privacy to another level. Details — such as the existence of the program — about Persistent Surveillance Systems weren’t initially shared with the public, and it’s not known if the police department plans to continue using the technology.
Meanwhile, fallout continued from the 2015 uprising. A report revealed Geofeedia was using social media tech to help the police department monitor protests in real time, leading to questions about facial recognition technology that was also being used. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram cut off Geofeedia after the report. Aerial pictures from an FBI-chartered plane were also released.
If 2016 was a year when the details of these technologies continued to be pushed into the open, perhaps 2017 will bring more debate in the public forum.

Companies: Baltimore Police Department
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