Bummer for IBM

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06/11/2009
IBM's work on the Navy Pier in Chicago gets a big article in the Sun Times, but there's no mention of who did the design and installation. I tend to think that IBM overhypes its installations (yesterday's release called the Chicago installation "one of the world's most advanced, integrated network video monitoring systems"), but that doesn't mean a reporter shouldn't note the name of the company that designed the sweet surveillance system that she/he's so impressed with. Really, would that be so hard? You know she/he's writing about the installation because of the press release that IBM put out - the installation happened back in February, as the reporter notes, but I suppose it could just be coincidence that he/she writes the story the day after IBM sends the release - so why not throw IBM a bone? (Maybe Fran's just kind of dim: In the span of four paragraphs he/she twice mentions "cameras so sophisticated, they can pick up a face in a crowd six blocks away." What does "pick up" mean? Is he/she impressed that the camera can see a face from six blocks away? Most consumer megapixel cameras can do that nowadays. Does he/she think the facial recognition can pick a person out of a crowd and identify that person from six blocks away? If so, she/he seems to be avoiding actually saying that. And, technically, the cameras aren't what's sophisticated, it's the software that's processing the images being collected that's sophisticated - and, actually, I kind of don't think the facial recognition software can identify faces from six blocks away very consistently, but maybe I'm wrong.) I'm also a big fan of this finish (as you might guess from having read yesterday's blog):
And what about Navy Pier and lakefront patrons who are not comfortable being watched? "Walt Disney [World] has probably been doing this for years," said Ray Orozco, executive director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
A: They're being watched anyway! Why does no one get this point about cameras in public places? If you are on the Navy Pier, there are all kinds of people (you know, other people on the Pier) who are watching you. There are police wandering around watching you. The cameras are the LAST thing you should be worried about if you're worried about being watched. No one's actually sitting there watching what's going on over 200 cameras. It's not really even possible. I don't care if the reporter isn't a security expert or anything - just think about what you would need for a force to watch 200 cameras simultaneously for two seconds and you realize it's idiocy. B. "Walt Disney [World] has probably been doing this for years"? That's the response you give to that question? Come on! That's not only a flippant and terrible answer, but, um, hey, you're executive director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, guy. Don't you think you could provide an answer more like: "Well, everyone on the Navy Pier is being watched all the time by our crack on-foot police force and, of course, by their fellow citizens. The cameras are more of a forensic tool in large part and our monitoring center would only really pay attention to cameras that indicated someone was in a restricted area or if a crowd massed in a strange location. People who are just going about their business aren't going to be watched by these cameras in any way, actually." To just toss off some stupid comment about Disney World is irresponsible. But, of course, there's the very real possibility that he said exactly the right thing but the reporter only quoted the Disney World part. I guess that's more than possible. I'd go with likely.

Comments

IBM certainly did not directly design the system. They acted, per usual, as an integrator of software and hardware owned by others. This was a sole source bid in the amount of $4.4 Million to provide approx. 180 new cameras & integrate 80 existing cameras.The command center was $351,500, Camera site survey $22,000 and Proj Mgmt $647,300. WOW! Image an average installed cost per new camera of $22,000???!!!
This bid was paid for with a Homeland Security Grant. Just another wired deal with IBM and the City of Chicago. Certainly the City could have saved substantial dollars by going with a competitive bid. The Chicago Way. Simply check out how much City business they acquire per year on a blanket, no bid, purchase agreement. You could easily feed the homeless!