This 'Live Google Earth' Could Be The Next Generation Of Crime Fighting, And It's Called — Wait For It — HAWKEYE

If you didn't already think the U.S. could become a surveillance state, this might change your mind: Recently, police in Compton, Baltimore, and Dayton have been testing a brand-new surveillance system intended to stop crime and catch criminals. The system, officially called the HAWKEYE system, is one of the several products invented by Air Force veteran Ross McNutt. In McNutt's words, HAWKEYE is "a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities." Gulp.

Basically, the airborne technology works like a satellite. It can capture images of 25 square mile areas on Earth — and, on top of that, the user can rewind or zoom in on the video. It's for this reason that a few police departments have started using HAWKEYE. Last year, Compton's police department began using the technology, and were able to locate a suspect who snatched a woman's necklace, as well as the suspects' getaway car.

McNutt also began a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems, which provides several other surveillance products besides this technology. McNutt has previously helped build surveillance systems in Iraq and Afghanistan to catch bombing suspects.

Here's a GIF that Gizmodo put together of the event, showing the location of the Compton victim, suspect, and getaway car.

Recently, Al Jazeera America evaluated the system by letting McNutt try to locate contributor and former CIA operative Lindsay Moran. McNutt had no problem tracking her down, as well as assessing that, based on her movement, she was acting "suspiciously."

Given the technology's capability, the issue of privacy has come up, as might be expected. After all the leaks of the the Snowden era, do people need to worry about being watched? That might be the point of this system, says Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who wants to invite civilians to come take a look at the surveillance system.

“I want them to be worried that we’re watching,” Biehl told the Washington Post. “I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.”

He also told Al Jazeera:

I think once the community understands that both the capability of this technology and its limitations will be applied in a very strategic, very thoughtful manner — lawful manner. I think we get reasonable people to agree that this is a technology that we should continue to explore.

With that said, McNutt clarified to Washington Post that this system wasn't about "peeping" on people. "We get a little frustrated when people get so worried about us seeing them in their backyard,” he said. “We can’t even see what they are doing in their backyard. And, by the way, we don’t care.”

Image: Gizmodo, Al Jazeera America