France Eyes CCTV

By Matthew Harwood

France is taking a cue from the United Kingdom, reports Reuters, and tripling the number of CCTV cameras deployed nationwide to fight terrorism and gang violence.

The Paris newspaper, Le Monde, puts the number of cameras currently operating in France at 340,000.

France's transportation system will get a healthy dose of the new CCTV coverage says the government.

[Interior Minister Michele] Alliot-Marie said the Paris public transport network would expand its surveillance network to 6,500 cameras, while systems operating in provincial cities would be progressively linked to police control rooms.

France stepped up security measures after the 2005 attacks in London's transport system that killed 52 people.

There are other problems French authorities say the cameras can help solve.

French authorities have said gang violence is a growing problem in Paris, which has seen repeated clashes between rival gangs in recent months.

 Alliot-Marie last month announced the creation of a special police unit on youth violence and said information collected by video surveillance should be shared among different services.

But that's not all. France is also investing in an eye-in-the-sky. France will begin testing a four foot long flying drone operationally next year, equiped with day and night vision, that the report says will track rioters and battle crime.

Some local mayors are already criticizing the "flying robots," arguing there needs to be more police officers on the ground and not robots in the air. Gilbert Roger, Socialist mayor of a Paris suburb, said the drones would signal that the state has disengaged from the city's suburbs, areas already fraught with alienation and despair and antagonism towards the state.

UPDATE: For more on the drone, known as the ESLA (Engin léger pour la surveillance aérienne), check out this report from  the World Aeronautical Press Agency


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