“Person of Interest”

Have you seen the CBS program “Person of Interest“? If not, it is centered around a “government” computer system developed for surveillance of terrorists but was abandoned by the intelligence branch. Years later, the man who designed “the machine” took possession and uses the system in clandestine crime prevention/solving.

(One of the two stars in the TV series is Jim Caviezel as John Reese, who has also been featured in such movies as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ“, Edmond Dantès inThe Count of Monte Cristo” and many others.)


In the series the computer system tracks ‘everyone’ by video cameras located virtually everywhere, GPS-equipped instruments, like cell phones, “smart” devices and other electronic/communications tools. With all this exotic equipment the vigilante “crime fighters” are able to find anyone, listen into their cell phone calls, intercept police communications, etc.

The variety of plots of this “one more” police-type series makes it fairly interesting. Similar investigative “tools” are used on most of these types of shows. But it challenges one’s acceptance that this is the “norm” in real-life agencies and police jurisdictions.

The fact is, although not quite as instantaneous or proactive as is portrayed on TV, police agencies DO have technologies that come close to those depicted. One example includes satellite surveillance.

True, most of us are familiar with Google Earth and similar programs from Microsoft and other companies but we also have experienced that the resolution (magnification) is not that detailed. No, not for the casual, “unsubscribed” user! But, if you are a news gathering agency or some similar group, you can pay or subscribe to a service that gives you much sharper clarity. Examples include views shown on newscasts that are so sharp (close) that you can identify a person face. Reading of license numbers on vehicles or house numbers is possible.


Concerning the listening in on cell phone conversations, that is a simple process IF you have the necessary equipment. You have seen on the news lately equipment that can “read” your credit card information even though it is in your wallet or purse and clone it to another card, for misuse. The same type of equipment exists that can intercept your mobile number and enable cloning it to another phone. It also allows one to listen to calls made to the original phone, as if it were an “extension”.

Thirty some years ago, I attended a seminar at the Texas Instruments factory in Dallas. In one of their newer facilities there was a “security tunnel”. It was about 7 feet long, made of clear plexiglass and had sensors embedded in the material. As you walked through the sensors detected your credentials badge or your card in the wallet, and by the time you had passed through, you were “logged in”. Without the badge you were met at the end of the tunnel by a guard.

As reported earlier, there are video cameras covering virtually every street and all public and many private buildings in London, England. You cannot go far without appearing on their video surveillance system. Many cities and towns in the USA are installing similar systems.


Yes, the TV cops have nice equipment but our real police are not far behind. Some say this is an invasion of their privacy or First Amendment rights. Others say if you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have anything to worry about!


With the state of the society in these modern times the police need all the help they can get.


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