Don’t talk to Charles Hill about privacy and security video.

A Chicago homeowner, Hill has had his fill of vandals and gang bangers spray-painting his property and breaking nearly $4,000 worth of windows.

What he did willingly shows how most Americans have moved beyond the Big Brother cliché as they see value in outdoor security video.

Hill installed five cameras outside his under-construction home. But it went further. He is the first homeowner in Chicago to connect his cameras into the surveillance camera “grid” created by the City of Chicago’s 9-1-1 emergency center. While received extensive coverage for its street-smart cameras, it seems that is poised to overtake the Brits very soon. Another incentive is that is among finalists for the 2016 Olympics.

A Video Network Grows in Chicago

Just months ago, security executives formally encouraged corporations, office building management and universities to connect their external security video cameras to the city’s integrated network. Numerous high-profile organizations have eagerly agreed. They include Boeing, Macy’s, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Golub & Company, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Sears Tower, the Prudential Plaza, Columbia College, DePaul University and Roosevelt University, to name a few.

Driving the Chicago plan is an existing fiber optics infrastructure that officials call Operation Virtual Shield.

Hockey mothers beware in Kennewick, Wash. 

During recent tests of crowd surveillance technology, surveillance cameras, infrared cameras, millimeter-wave radar and analytics were used to scan fans of the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans, who play at the town’s 6,000-seat

“We’re trying to figure out how to protect large venues from terrorist attacks,” Nicholas Lombardo told local media. He is project manager for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of nine Department of Energy national laboratories. The lab coordinates the testing, which initially focuses on pedestrians and will expand to include vehicles in coming years.

It is reported that Lombardo hired mock suicide bombers to mix with hockey fans and sneak simulated explosives into the building. The tests netted two hockey fans, one with a hidden beer, another for wearing a cast. Funny or not so funny?

Identity Theft Spurs Computer Intrusion Fears

It was not too long ago that such projects would generate headlines, heartaches and anger over that Big Brother is watching feeling. No more, for the most part. There are still concerns but, ironically, the spotlight has shifted to computer- and communications-based concerns instead of security video, thanks in part to the fear of identity theft.

Take, for example, the dust-up over so-called “fusion centers,” which collect and distribute “intelligence” from both private data companies and law enforcement sources at local, state and federal levels. These fusion centers have the attention of the ACLU, among others. The latest threat to some came last March when the Los Angeles Police Department issued LAPD Special Order #11, which orders officers to create “suspicious activity reports” compiling “information of a criminal or non-criminal nature.” The order encourages the police to track those using binoculars, taking pictures or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value,” as well as those “taking notes.” In June, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and the Major City Chiefs Association, recommended that other cities take up the LAPD practice.

Homeland Security grants – spend it or lose it – generate projects with a less-than-obvious payback.