When 27-year-old Jon Gales left his condo in downtown Tampa, Fla., in June 2012, he expected to take a stroll. Instead, he noticed a surveillance camera being installed on the exterior of his building, aimed at the very sidewalk on which he stood. The camera, installed in advance of the Republican National Convention, sparked an idea. Gales began tracking cameras in Tampa's public areas and created a map detailing their locations.
While the idea of public surveillance cameras was new and potentially disturbing to Gales, in other cities, public surveillance has become commonplace. San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., are rife with closed-circuit cameras along sidewalks. In Great Britain, there is one surveillance camera for every 14 people, aimed at public places, capturing each person in the country an estimated 300 times a day. The country is thought to have 20 percent of the world's surveillance cameras trained on its citizens, which by the way hasn't seemed to reduce crime [sources: Hill, Bowcott].
Some U.S. street cops are using iPhones with special equipment that can scan irises, measure facial features and scan electronic fingerprints. This information is then run through databases of photos and information to find matches. Facebook's facial recognition software that automatically tags photos could be mined for matches, too [source: Ganeva].