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SkyWatch - Creepy Mobile Surveillance Towers Coming to a Mall Near You

December 30, 2010 | Howard Lichtman
Here are some especially creepy mobile surveillance towers that are going up around the country in mall parking lots, train stations, and events like the "Taste of Chicago" and Mardi Gras.  The "SkyWatch Mobile Manned Surveillance Towers" are made by a ICX, a defense contractor, who is selling the units to the military for use in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to police departments and Homeland Security.  The company also makes an unmanned surveillance platform called the Cerberus (PDF) that is named after the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell.  Extra creepy.  The units are equipped with short range ground based radar and both thermal and CCD cameras that I am assuming will ultimately be integrated with facial and gait recognition. 

While the units seem ideal for military situations and protecting our border from the waves of illegal immigration that are bankrupting cities and municipalities with anchor babies and emergency room visits, they appear as creepy, internal guard towers when used by police.  While police credit the units with reducing crime the same argument could be made for putting a surveillance camera on every corner and pointed at every house.  An idea that, no doubt, has defense contractors salivating in their sleep. 

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