The article boasts that the city of Erie will soon get fast, public Wi-Fi as well as a video surveillance system that can alert law enforcement of potential threats.
It starts to get interesting when Mayor Joe Schember admits that the SSC surveillance system "could relay real-time information to city officials."
Spying on citizens in real-time is only the beginning of this privacy nightmare.
The Erie Downtown Partnership will give businesses $25,000 in grant money to purchase surveillance systems. However, "any business that receives such a grant must agree to voluntarily turn footage over to law enforcement if it can help solve a crime."
"John Buchna, the Erie Downtown Partnership’s executive director, said the Perry Square system complements his organization’s recent efforts to increase security downtown through a grant program that helps businesses buy surveillance cameras."
Does any of this sound familiar?
Police cam-share programs start by law enforcement 'asking' businesses and homeowners to install surveillance cameras and turning over any footage to them. They market these programs as a way to improve the community by making cities and towns desirable to companies and visitors looking for safe streets. But often obscure the fact that their primary goal is surveilling citizens.
Police cam-share program disguised as 'Business Improvement Project'
San Francisco's 'Union Square Business Improvement District' project is really a police cam-share program.
"What started as a pilot program with six privately owned cameras around Union Square has morphed into a coordinated web of 350 cameras that share footage with the police, who would love to see it expand even further."
"The Union Square Business Improvement District started the security camera program in 2012 and has since raised more than $3 million in grant money while outfitting about 40 property owners with cameras, said Karin Flood, executive director of the organization."
"The Union Square group, which spans 27 square blocks, received grant funding from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The district works with the vendor Applied Video Solutions and dedicates staff members who manage the camera program and coordinate with police."
Who is behind police cam-share programs?
DHS and police cam-share programs
What is DHS's connection to police cam-share programs?
The Erie Community Foundation works with the Ridge Policy Group, a lobbying firm created by Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary, and his long term senior advisors.
Two years ago, Mercyhurst University said they would take the lead in establishing a Downtown Erie Innovation District based on safety and security; thanks to a $4 million grant by the Erie Community Foundation.
A study of non-profit organizations in Erie PA revealed that "nonprofits today face serious challenges—a realignment of public priorities and homeland security issues..."
Below are a couple more examples of DHS's connections to SSC's and police cam-share programs.
Last year the IJIS Institute, a nonprofit organization that is focused on public safety, and Homeland Security, gave 'Project Green Light Detroit' their 2017 IJIS Institute Innovation Award.
Steve Ambrosini, Executive Director of the IJIS Institute, said, “The Detroit Police Department and Motorola Solutions are to be commended for their creative use of technology in the Project Green Light Detroit. connecting business cameras to the PD...” (To find out more about Project Green Light click here.)
IJIS's awards page reads like a who's who in law enforcement and surveillance.
Police cam-share programs like Project Green Light use Motorola's 'CommandCentral Aware' application that allows police to surveil citizens in real-time, 24 hours a day, in stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other businesses.