City Moves Forward With Surveillance Plane Pilot Program

Baltimore CityBy a 3-2 vote, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates has approved a contract for a six-month pilot of a surveillance plane. The plane will be used to capture images of the city to assist with criminal investigations.

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates formulates and executes the fiscal policy of the City including awarding contracts and supervising all City purchasing . It consists of five members: The Mayor, President of the City Council, the Comptroller, the City Solicitor, and the Director of Public Works.

Both City Council President Brandon Scott and City Comptroller Joan Pratt voted against the pilot program.

From The Baltimore Sun:

The planes, their pilots, analysts and hanger space will be funded by wealthy Texas philanthropists Laura and John Arnold through their organization, Arnold Ventures. The technology is capable of capturing images of 32 square miles of the city for a minimum of 40 hours a week.

Data from the planes will be stored for only 45 days, unless it is needed for an investigation. The planes can’t be used for real-time surveillance, only to look back, and no one could be arrested solely based on images produced by the planes, Harrison said.

For more information:

Baltimore spending board approves surveillance plane pilot program to capture images from city streets (The Baltimore Sun)

Prior coverage from Conduit Street:

City’s Board of Estimates Delays Approval of Surveillance Plane