Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Police Surveillance in Sao Paolo is at All-Time High, as Crime Wave Shocks City

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, January 2 2013

A military police officer with a camera-mounted EagleEye backpack, from BBC Future Video.

BBC Future has a look into the Orwellian surveillance tech that police in Sao Paolo are using to monitor crime in the metropolis of 41 million. An integrated network of databases, tablet technology and mobile cameras are giving law enforcement officials an unprecedented eye on activity in the city streets.

The video segment, part of BBC World News’ Horizons series, focuses on two main arms of the surveillance system. A massive photo database of criminal activity, FotoCrim, catalogues everything from mugshots to tattoos, instantly cross-referencing materials to narrow down suspects among repeat offenders; the whole program is available on tablet in police cars, where it transforms into a GPS-like platform for locating criminals’ whereabouts based on their recent addresses. The police’s video surveillance program, EagleEye, streams real-time footage from cameras mounted on helicopters, motorbikes, and even uniformed officers wearing high-tech backpacks.

The massive-scale data collection isn’t just for catching perps – it’s also been implemented on other civic issues, like crowd control, car accidents, and even sending emergency response motorbikes to accidents inaccessible by car in Sao Paolo’s hyper-congested streets.

While crime rates have been in decline in Sao Paolo over the past decade, a wave of brutal killings in October and November shocked the city, particularly as the dead included many police officers, some of whom were shot in the head, execution style.

Mounting tensions between the police and the P.C.C., a major crime group that operates out of prisons, have blown into what many consider to be a war in the streets. Officials vowed to bulk up surveillance even further after the murders, but it remains to be seen whether data can bring down drug lords in 2013.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Upgrades

Obama tech veterans heading to Hillary 2016?; renewed calls for Obama to stop collecting Americans' phone metadata; FCC upgrades its definition of broadband service, finally; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Blogrolling

How Canada spies on its citizens' web behavior; with uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan quitting the field, whither political blogs; how big data is helping prevent homelessness in NYC; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Jargon Busters

Changes in the RNC's tech team; big plans for digital democracy in the UK; how people in Cuba are making their own private Internet; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Stalking

How the DEA tracks millions of America motorists; will the Senate enter the 21st century?; Obama veteran Jeremy Bird's role in the upcoming Israeli election; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Video Stars

How the White House hit a home run on YouTube post-State of the Union; why the Barrett Brown sentencing casts a chill on online security research; how media producers use Crowdtangle to optimize their Facebook audiences; and much, much more. GO

More