Viewing CCTV on every street corner

2.4 GHz video transmitters are everywhere these days, in many, many products ranging from baby monitors to CCTV setups. Surprisingly, most owners of these video devices don’t realize they’re transmitting an unencrypted video signal, a belief [Benjamin] hopes to rectify.

[Ben]‘s project started with him driving around cities recording unencrypted 2.4GHz video feeds. His idea has since expanded to include building metal boxes with an LCD display and attaching them to light poles. Think of it as an education via technology; most people don’t know these devices are receivable by everybody, and showing them it is possible is the first step in learning.

If you’re looking for something a little more creepy than a metal box attached to a lamp-post, [Ben] is also the brainchild behind the Surveillance Video Entertainment Network, an installation (also in van form) that exposes unencrypted 2.4 GHz video transmissions in cities around the world.

You can check out a few intercepted surveillance videos after the break.

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Roll your own battery backup system

[Chris] and [Dom] wanted to build their own battery backup system on the cheap. They were very creative in sourcing the parts, and ended up putting together a battery-backed CCTV system for about eighty bucks.

Since short power outages are fairly common in the area this battery backup makes sense. We’ve seen some pretty gnarly whole-house systems but this is more of a novelty. That’s a good thing, because the hacking duo decided to reuse batteries which were headed for the scrap yard. They’re connected to a trickle charger which makes sure that they’re continually topped off when mains power is energized. But when there’s a blackout a relay switches an outlet box over to the inverter (also a used part).

The system is outlined in the entertaining video after the break. You’ll see they guys show off the completed build, followed by a walk through of the circuit they designed and how it functions.

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Webcam turned security cam with motion detected email notifications

[Sean] used his old webcam to assemble a closed circuit television feed for his home. He already had a server up and running, so this was just a matter of connecting a camera and setting up the software. He wasn’t satisfied by only having a live feed, so he decided to add a few more features to the system.

He started off by hanging a webcam near the front of his house. He mentions that he’s not sure this will last long exposed to the elements, but we think it’d be dead simple to build an enclosure with a resealable container and a nice piece of acrylic as a windows. But we digress…

The camera connects via USB to the server living in the garage. [Sean's] setup uses Yawcam to create a live feed that can be access from the Internet. The software also includes motion detection capabilities. Since he wanted to have push notifications when there was action within the camera’s view he also set up Growl alert him via his iOS devices. You can see [Sean] demonstrate his completed CCTV system in the video below the fold.

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NYC CCTV scouting

nypd

On a recent trip to New York City, [sherri] noticed the abundant “NYPD Security Camera” signage. She Ò on her little sousveillance tour and did some digging to learn more about the system. According to a recent NY Post article, the city intends to have 2,000 cameras installed by 2009. Each unit has at least two cameras, an onboard DVR, battery backup, a webserver, and wireless connection. The CrimeEye product line is manufactured by Total Recall—the people who brought you BABYWATCH. While the company site doesn’t list any specs, we found a price list that was provided to New York State. Each unit lists for $28-39K. They can have image sensors up to 2 megapixels, hold 30fps video for 5-15days, and transmit wirelessly on the 4.9GHz public safety band.

[sherri] wonders what systems are in place to guarantee the security of the camera network and to make sure the data is handled properly. We’ve seen bad implementations of cameras with webservers
in the past. She suggests a third-party system to verify security, operation, and storage. Right now there’s no reason the government won’t use footage for invasive data mining. As a publicly funded system monitoring public areas, we see no reason why the video streams from these devices shouldn’t be widely available.

[Thanks Tendency]

Surveillance as art


The Target Project is a graduate project from the Royal College of Arts in London. It is designed to make us question our relationship with surveillance technology and CCTV. This is a particularly meaningful demonstration for a country like Britain which is said to contain up to 4.2 million CCTV cameras or roughly 1 for every 14 people.

This project has two demonstrations on their site. The first is dubbed the RTS-2 (Racial Targeting System). This system is essentially a camera which follows faces and is able to analyze and interpret the person’s race. The second is SOLA. This system is able to quickly scan someone and calculate their body mass index then publish this information to the web. Both systems achieve their goal by blatantly pointing out a line in which more surveillance does not equate to more security. They also show the wealth of personal data that can be obtained about a person by a simple camera.

[via we make money not art]

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