Fusus Allows Police to Monitor Public and Private Camera Feeds Across Cities ⇥ 404media.co
Jon Schuppe and Bracey Harris, reporting for NBC News in December 2020 from Mississippi:
The move made Jackson, which has struggled to keep up with advances in high-tech crime-fighting, one of two dozen places in the country where police agencies inked deals this year with Fusus, a small Georgia company that aims to make it easier for American law enforcement agencies to build networks of public and private security cameras.
The company helps police departments build networks of public and private cameras. The service includes devices — black boxes the size of Wi-Fi routers — that convert video from just about any kind of camera into a format that can be fed, live or recorded, into a police surveillance hub. Fusus contracts with police departments, which typically sell, subsidize or give the devices to private users. Documents obtained through government records requests show Fusus listing packages from $480 to $1,000 a year per device.
Zac Larkham, OpenDemocracy, September 2023:
Fusus has been attempting to expand into the UK, opening an office in London’s Canary Wharf in March this year and hiring former officers from the Met to approach councils and police forces. It has approached Tower Hamlets and Hackney borough councils and the Met, City of London and Merseyside police forces to sell products that integrate CCTV and surveillance networks, according to Freedom of Information requests.
Kensington and Chelsea Council and Merton Council also confirmed they had also been in contact with Fusus when approached by openDemocracy, with Kensington and Chelsea running a 60-day trial starting earlier this month.
Bobby Hristova, CBC News, October:
Hamilton police was one of over a dozen Canadian police agencies in attendance at the Real Time Crime Center Operations and Tech Integration conference in Mississauga, Ont., in early October, CBC Hamilton has learned.
Some of those in attendance saw a demo of Fusus — a paid service that makes it easier for police to access privately owned security camera footage from residents and businesses.
I linked to a couple of pieces about Real-Time Operations Centres in July.
Joseph Cox, 404 Media, in November:
404 Media has obtained a cache of internal emails, presentations, memos, photos, and more which provide insight into how Fusus teams up with police departments to sell its surveillance technology. All around the country, city councils are debating whether they want to have a system that qualitatively changes what surveillance cameras mean for a town’s residents and public agencies. While many have adopted Fusus, others have pushed back, and refused to have the hardware and software installed in their neighborhoods.
Joseph Cox, 404 Media:
More than a hundred local police departments, sheriff’s offices, and cities have set up an AI-powered camera system, with nearly 200,000 connected cameras belonging to residents and businesses around the country able to provide “direct access” to law enforcement, according to a 404 Media analysis of a set of scraped data.
404 Media has assembled a spreadsheet of Fusus data it obtained. The scale is surprising to me, considering it requires private camera owners to purchase hardware costing at least $350, plus $150 per year, in order to allow Fusus access to their cameras’ feeds. According to this sheet, however, over 187,000 camera feeds are “integrated”.
Initiatives like these are fascinating because they represent a break from falling societal trust in institutions in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. (PDF); something like this requires significant public buy-in. While people generally are more confident in local institutions — like city governments and police — I would be shocked if many people agreed to provide live camera access directly to their local police service if asked. It should be noted the data published by 404 Media is inherently self-selecting, which means people are wilfully opting in to mass surveillance and paying to participate. This should not be confused with an authoritarian police state in which participation in a system like this would be mandatory. Here, it is not. The obligations of a police state are certainly objectionable, of course, but so is mass surveillance on its own grounds — even when it is purely voluntary.
Given inflated media reports of crime, I have little wonder why this sector has been so successful.