plotting and planning

After the conversation that I had with Shannon a couple of weeks ago, I decided to structure my project in terms of chain of commands.  It will help visualizing the ways in which the surveillance network enacts.  In addition, it is to emphasize the real-time responsiveness of the surveillance network, which is the most distinctive feature of the NYPD surveillance.

The layers would be:


1. Data collector and transmitter

(1) Skywatch

: A surveillance tower equipped with three cameras and an antenna.

(2) Mobile Command Center

: A van equipped with a camera and an antenna.  Inside the car, police officers monitor the cameras.

(3) Surveillance camera with antenna

: Images taken by the camera are transmitted to NYPD network in real time wirelessly through antenna.

(4) Surveillance camera without antenna

: Images are stored and NYPD later checks it if there was a crime.

(5) Individual Police officers

: Patrolling over the neighborhood.  Exchanging information through NYPD radio.


2. Data center

(1) Headquarter of NYPD

: Agents work at Real-Time Crime Watch Center watch through networked cameras all over the city

(2) Regional offices

: Each precinct office collects information through police radio.

(3) Mobile Command Center

-> commands to be delivered to each precinct office or police officers depending on the data


3. Specialized organizations

(1) Real-Time Crime Watch Center

YouTube: Hi-Tech Investigation: NYPD Real Time Crime Center

(2) Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU)

(3) Video Interactive Patrol Enhancement Response (VIPER)


4. Network Infrastructure





After actually walking around the neighborhood in Corona, I found out that most of the surveillance cameras are not owned by NYPD, except the Skywatch and Mobile Command Center.  I realized that better example for studying realtime responsiveness of the NYPD surveillance network would be Lower Manhattan, in which the government invested an enormous budget since 9/11.  Yet, since my interest is in the way in which counterterrorism affects our everyday life, I am not going to change my research area.

I expanded my research objects to privately owned surveillance cameras, which cover the streets.  It is true that the cameras are not directly networked to NYPD’s system and yet, since 9/11, NYPD has been encouraged private building owners to install surveillance cameras in order to defend the terrorist attacks.

In addition, surveillance infrastructure innovations are still an on-going process.  Although we have no information where NYPD will install the surveillance cameras, it can always come like the Skywatch just appeared in the neighborhood without much explanation to residents.  I wish I could map this future direction as well, but it wouldn’t be possible to map it geographically.  Thus, I will put this issue in argument part.

So far, I have identified where cameras are, so it would be the easiest job mapping them on URT.  And what I need to is writing arguments, conducting interviews, recording soundscapes where cops present, and identifying how the Mobile Command Center moves.  In argument part, I will discuss the relationship between the technology and socio-political forces, especially in relation to the Counterterrorism. In addition, I will describe how the city has been changed since 9/11 in terms of its communication infrastructure and regulations.  Finally, I will argue the way in which this change affects populations.

During my research, I always felt that the existence of the surveillance network proves that we are actually living in military operations.  It reminds me of Kittler’s article “the city is the medium”, which illuminates the history of the city in terms of military purposes.  And it gets more and more overt.  Interestingly and depressingly, a bill passed last night (93-7 votes) that declares the entire USA a “battleground”, which grants the military the unchecked power to arrest, detain, interrogate and even assassinate U.S. citizens with impunity.





One comment

  1. I’m glad to see that you’re thinking about the “division of labor” between the plotted points and the textual argument; those elements of your overall argument that don’t have an overtly spatial dimension, or that simply can’t be plotted, are perhaps best addressed in a non-cartographic way. I look forward to seeing how your layers take shape on the map; I’m particularly interested in how you’ll be capturing the mobility of the mobile command centers!

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