The American Civil Liberties Union has its hackles up over Chicago’s extensive networks of security cameras, Fox News reported. There are at least 24,000 such cameras, the report says, including traffic cams, neighborhood crime scanners, and private security installations. Traffic cameras whose function was catching speeders and light runners are being swivel-mounted for 360-degree visibility.
With 228 square miles in its jurisdiction, this means there are 105 cameras per square mile. Is this extreme? Typical? Here’s a comparison with some other major American localities.
Manhattan comprises 22.7 square miles. Its unofficial camera count was 4,468 in 2005, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. According to Fox News, the city monitors the 4,000 of those cameras south of 59th street from a $150 million operation center bearing a 40-foot television screen. That’s 196.8 surveillance cams per square mile. When the Super Bowl came to nearby New Jersey in January, police added 200 temporary surveillance cameras in Manhattan, Associated Press reported.
There are 26 traffic cameras in San Francisco, the Municipal Transportation Agency says. The city is also under private surveillance by some 1,100 security cameras. The combined surveillance and traffic camera saturation in San Francisco is 24 per square mile.
Before the Boston Marathon bombing, Houston’s public surveillance camera count was 350. In the wake of the Marathon bombing, Houston added 180 new cameras in its downtown, the Houston Chronicle said. Its citywide total is up to about 1,000. The University of Houston has an additional 1,000 of its own. With 634 square miles in the city limits, that’s about 3.2 cameras per square mile. The figures don’t include surveillance by private business.
The nation’s capital has 123 public surveillance cameras, the Washington Times reported in June 2013. But those aren’t the only cameras capable of spying on the public in the District. There are also 150 speed cameras and 50 red light cameras, RT noted. And there are private-public partnerships such as the Georgetown neighborhood’s 10 cameras deliberately set up on private property to skirt rules governing public surveillance,yet, as reported by the Washington Post, made available to police. Indoor surveillance cameras operated by the District government monitor activities at schools, public housing, and government buildings. All told, that’s about 5,600 cameras feeding city police information about citizens’ comings and goings. With its scant 61 square miles in area, DC ‘s cameras per square mile count is just short of 92.