The 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, FLA is an important moment in the history of surveillance. Using a software program called FaceIt™ (developed by the Visionics Corporation), local police strategically placed video surveillance cameras in key locations to scan the faces of thousands of ticket holders entering the stadium. No arrests were made but the program identified 19 wanted suspects by matching biometric readings of spectators’ facial images with previously stored images of convicted felons. Following the ‘success’ of this experiment, the Tampa police installed a 36-camera system equipped with FaceIt™ software in the city’s nightlife district. The publicity generated by this public-private partnership was a boon to Visionics and the biometrics industry more widely. Government departments and agencies around the world started to invest millions of taxpayer dollars into the development of biometric surveillance for counter-terrorism and intelligence purposes.
According to a report in today’s Economic Times (the business publication of the India Times – think the equivalent to the Financial Post), the surveillance economy in India is booming. “After the recent serial bombings across the country, security has taken centre stage,” the report argues. “And helping corporates and government agencies alike for increasing the security systems at their installations, are emerging Indian companies operating in the security equipment space. The market for products like surveillance systems, CCTVs, interception devices, explosive detectors, door frame metal detectors and access control systems has seen a surge in demand.”