Most of the recent talk about Big Brother-style aerial surveillance of civilians tends to focus on drones, but while we weren’t paying attention, a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems has developed a camera system for light aircraft with truly scary snooping capabilities. The system has 12 underbelly 192-megapixel cameras fitted to a Cessna light aircraft, and each one takes a new picture every second over an area that can be as large as five miles by five miles.
Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above. But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.