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    Paper trail: Four key documents that describe the SPD's new surveillance network

    After sifting through hundreds of pages on the city's "port security" surveillance camera and data network project, we were left with more questions than answers. Here's the paperwork. What do you think?
    Security self portrait

    Security self portrait Photo: Flickr User shannonkringen

    Crosscut reviewed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Seattle Police Department’s federally-funded "port security" surveillance camera and data network project. The documentation included requests for proposals (RFP), contracts, technical specifications and communications with the project’s bidders. These three key documents, marked "exempt from public disclosure" but provided to Crosscut by the city, detailed elements of the project that were not widely reported.

    1. The "Police Video Diagram" shows the desired configuration of the system, how it should connect to other agencies, and which parts were paid for by the federal grant. SPD managers have said since that the implementation of the program differs from the contract documents.
    2. The "Network Diagram" shows how the geographic footprint of the wireless "mesh network" was planned to extend beyond the location of 30 waterway cameras. 
    3. The "ITS Interoperability Diagram" shows how a spur of the wireless network to be installed down Jackson Street and south along Rainier Avenue would connect with SDOT and King County Metro transportation information systems.

    A fourth document, the contract between the city and Cascade Networks Inc., which is the builder of the system, includes details such as the planned acquisition of six powerful thermal imaging cameras that can “see” heat sources within boats or buildings. The thermal imaging cameras are FLIR Voyager II models, according to Monty Moss of the SPD, who also told Crosscut that only three of the cameras have been acquired to date. The cameras are supposed to be installed on harbor patrol boats.

    Also in the contract, while the supplier proposed a Panasonic model camera for the 30 waterway locations, the actual models installed are Canon VB-M40 and Canon VB-H41 models.

    All told, the documents raise an important question: If the RFP and contract documents specify certain program qualities — the ability to link to partners, for example, or the use of certain types of equipment — but city staff say that something else has been done or installed, how will the public know with certainty what precisely the system entails? That will take further investigation.


    Matt Fikse-Verkerk (Twitter: @mattfikse) covered urban affairs, politics, tech, and business at Crosscut from 2009 to 2014. He lives in Seattle and works for a biotechnology firm in Redmond, WA.

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    Posted Thu, Mar 14, 11:20 p.m. Inappropriate

    SPD is just a tiny step away from becoming the "Big Bother" that Orwell us warned about. Surveillance networks are something J. Edgar put in place to spy on black and white Americans who demonstrated for civil rights and the end of Jim Crow.

    Get this crap out of our state and return SPD to being the police that the city needs and wants. And for goodness sake fire all the pinhead fascists in blue who wanted this done in the first place.


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