Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cutting to (and from) The Chase

[Image: StarChase: Real Time Tagging & Tracking Pursuit Management System]

Unlike Subtopia's earlier coverage of locative sniper rifles, this latest GPS dart gun designed for the LAPD is most definitely real. Officers in heavy pursuit of stolen cars or fleeing motorists will only need to drive up close enough to aim a green laser at the vehicle in order to keep them from getting away. From a hand-held device that is described very similarly to the popular key chain lasers you can buy in any head shop, police units will aim the target reticle for a compressed air launcher that is mounted on the gangbuster grills of their squad cars. The air rifle, then, fires a miniature GPS receiver at the car, fixing to it with a highly adhesive epoxy compound. From impact, the sticky dart transmits the car's exact coordinates via satellite to police headquarters where it's little racing icon is superimposed over L.A.'s sprawling and tangled speedway road map, displayed on a computer, potentially watched by all. That map could then be relayed to other dispatches in the field, or helicopters, or even other passenger vehicles using GPS navigation systems, theoretically, who may be advised to steer clear.

According to the LA Times, "There were more than 600 pursuits in Los Angeles and more than 100,000 nationwide last year. Critics have long questioned the wisdom of police pursuits because they can endanger bystanders and officers," and since most of the time they end violently. Makes sense, right?

But check out the manufacturer's demo video. It looks like a homecooked machinima instructional demo, or a bad cutscene from some video game. And it is suddenly real easy again to imagine a future open-source municipal video game emerging specifically designed to manage our city's most sticky security issues through Google-ized virtualized cartographic game space. If these GPS dart guns were to be perfected, and mounted and rotated on light poles or street lights along side CCTV cams, their reticles could then be guided by remote operators scanning their LAPD panoptic gamepads at the donut shop for possible crimes in progress. Suddenly, catching your grand theft auto suspect takes on a whole new gamey realm of fingertip law enforcement. The best gamers will once again be hired to police the freeways with GPS dart guns (or other even more frightening remote controlled guns), and poor old L.A. -- world capital of the infamous car chase -- would slip dramatically into televisory disarray, while lazy officers decide to finish their coffee first before converging on the car's exact location once it comes to a stop, and cocky car jackers lead them to their secret San Andreas dens.

(via: Boing Boing & Archinect)

Media Coverage:
L.A. Cops Fight Car Chases With GPS Devices
LAPD Pursues High-Tech End to High-Speed Chases


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