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Chicago's ready for its close-up

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Chicago is known for a lot of things: stunning architecture, deep-dish pizza and political corruption of just about every variety.

Apparently, we can also lay claim to being the "most watched city in America," thanks to the abundance of video surveillance provided by public and private security cameras linked to the city's 911 center.

"I don't think there is another city in the U.S. that has as an extensive and integrated camera network as Chicago has," former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told the Associated Press.

City officials won't say exactly how many cameras there are, but it's believed to be more than 10,000.

And today, the city's newly appointed emergency management chief, Jose Santiago, announced a push to get even more private sector businesses to connect their surveillance cameras to the 911 network.

Thinking about all of those cameras on the streets of Chicago left me with mixed feelings.

There's no question that video surveillance can play a big role in solving crimes and sorting out the cause of an accident or emergency.

But who's watching the people watching us to make sure they aren't abusing their access to those cameras?

The majority of Chicagoans, though, seem to be OK with the growing camera network, since police say they only hear about the cameras when people want one installed in their neighborhood or worry one will be removed.

Mayor Richard Daley "could put 10,000 more cameras up and nobody would say anything," Paul Green, a Roosevelt University political science professor, told the AP.

I'm not sure what it says about us that we get more outraged about parking meter fees than the quiet erosion of our privacy.

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Paul Green outright lies. Around the country numerous protests have been staged against the very type of Orwellian cameras used by the impeachable Daley.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on April 6, 2010 4:50 PM.

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