The logical result of IP cameras going mainstream

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04/21/2008
I'm surprised this is the first I've heard of an Internet campaign to recruit people to monitor IP cameras from the comforts of their own homes. It's a group called Virtual Vigilance, part of American Border Patrol, and they're placing IP cameras on the border with Mexico that can be monitored over the 'Net, provided you've got a user name and password. The idea is that people can sign up to monitor individual cameras, so that each camera is monitored 24/7, and volunteers can contact border guards if they see something suspicious. These guys have at least done a little homework: To maximize vigilance, viewing time is limited to 30 minutes, after which another volunteer takes over. So, for each camera, the group needs, say, 12 rotating volunteers? Or as many as 48 if each person agrees to only take one shift a day? And each of those volunteers needs to commit to 365 days of vigilance? That adds up to a lot of people in a hurry if you're trying to cover any serious portion of the border. We're talking 2,000 miles of border here. More power to them, I guess, but I can see this sort of thing possibly becoming a bit in vogue. Graffiti problem at the school? Get some volunteer parents to monitor cameras. Worried about sex offenders in your community? Set up cameras near day care centers and get volunteers to monitor them for signs the bad guys are in the area. Hey, it's better than everyone just sitting home and watching soap operas, right?

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[...] first saw a program like this about nine months ago. At the time, I [...]