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Impressive or Intrusive? Newark Airport Lights Are Watching You

What do you think about a new network of data-hungry security systems that could expand from one terminal in Newark airport to shopping malls, schools and big cities?

Newark airport has bought into a growing market marrying lighting technology with data-intensive surveillance that many security and retail insiders see as a potential new frontier, while others raise questions about the invasive capabilities of an expanding panopticon. 

The system of LED light fixtures networked to an always-watching wireless surveillance system that sends video and sensor data to a centrally monitored security hub, as detailed in a New York Times article Tuesday.

The network can “spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff,” the Times reported.

But with primary concerns of radical new technology outpacing ethical conversations regarding that technology—see wide-scale NSA data collection, Facebook privacy settings and the implications of soon-to-be ubiquitous wearables like Google Glass—many are publicly asking questions about whether this progressive airport surveillance program is the latest slip down an unpredictably steep slope.

"There are some people in the commercial space who say, 'Oh, big data — well, let’s collect everything, keep it around forever, we’ll pay for somebody to think about security later,'" one consumer privacy analyst told the Times.

The Port Authority—which operates the airport—“will own and maintain the data it collects,” according to the Times, and law enforcement agencies would have to issue a subpoena or written request to access data.

The technology would help usher in a new era of “public safety, parking management, predictive maintenance,” one industry insider told the Times. 

While panopticon-style security systems are nothing new—see New York's infamous "Ring of Steel"—the expanding tech presents previously unseen capabilities.

Cities like Las Vegas and Copenhagen hope to eventually use the technology to control lighting, play music or issue security alerts, control traffic, monitor carbon dioxide levels and detect when garbage cans are at maximum capacity, according to the Times. 

The Times report, among othershowever, allude to retail interests and manufacturers potentially putting the financial value of the collected information before the privacy concerns of private citizens.

What do you think of the technology? Tell us in the comments.

Windrunner February 20, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Key phrases there wms826- what country is this? cops with machine guns, and soldiers locked and loaded, that doesn't convey the message of how screwed up things have gotten here? Terrorists are our last problem in this places- crazed out gang types and drug addicts are the real crime numbers.
Chuck Ruff February 20, 2014 at 06:14 PM
"It is impossible to have too much security at the airport." Even if those security measures trample all over our constitutional rights??? The TSA even admitted that what they do violates the 4th amendment, but Americans still support them. I guess the U.S. Constitution is nothing but a piece of paper at this point.
suz February 20, 2014 at 06:39 PM
Constitutional rights???? That went out the door when the towers fell!!!!!!
Judy Riggenbach February 23, 2014 at 08:13 AM
I support the intent of the technology. What I cannot support wit the use of it is the information that will become available to the possibly unscrupulous people in charge. It will become like " Big Brother" . Our Government has broken the laws set in the Constitution flagrantly and constantly for many years. If we do nothing to stop them they will continue to do so.
Social issues in Morristown Blog March 02, 2014 at 10:23 AM
http://socialissuesinmotown.blogspot.com/ please visit our blog on illegal immigration!

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