GovBytes: Street Surveillance – Good Governance or Poor Policy?

In a post 9/11 world, surveillance is becoming prominent as more resources are allocated to fighting terrorism. There are those who oppose surveillance, such as street cameras, out of fear that the government is becoming too powerful. There is also concern that increased surveillance may be bad fiscal policy. Government Technology reported that a 2005 surveillance initiative in Cook County, Illinois, called “Project Shield”, which used a $45 million Department of Homeland Security grant to increase video camera surveillance in the county, was a bust.

“When we looked at ‘Project Shield,’ we found a large number of issues related to this program — from its conception to its implementation,” said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County board president, in a statement on the county’s website. “We began immediately to correct what we saw as glaring problems, ending the program.”

Video Camera Initiative a $45 Million Bust

Cook County, home to the city of Chicago, has good reason to desire strong anti-terrorism measures, as it is the second most populous county in the country.

In the report on why the program failed, it was determined that there was not enough oversight from the Federal Emergency Management Agency over where the funds were being allocated. Records, as well as inventory, were also mismanaged or missing.

Was mismanagement the biggest flaw in the program, or is increased surveillance poor fiscal policy? Would you like to see more initiatives like “Project Shield” implemented if done correctly, or do you think we could do without an increase of surveillance?


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to t[email protected]

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