Minority Report on the Buses


CCTV security systems could soon spot an assault on a bus before it happens, according to a major research project.The system, part of which has already been tested in laboratory conditions, looks for suspicious behaviour associated with crime. It would be able to send live CCTV pictures to operation rooms, from where controllers would be able to intervene. The Queens University Belfast team say the software could make a significant impact on crime on transport. Although much of the work is currently at the theoretical stage, the team from the university’s newly-founded Centre for Secure Information Technologies predict that within five years their software will be able to profile people as they board a bus.

via BBC

Anti-Wifi Paint

Researchers say they have created a special kind of paint which can block out wireless signals.It means security-conscious wireless users could block their neighbours from being able to access their home network – without having to set up encryption.The paint contains an aluminium-iron oxide which resonates at the same frequency as wi-fi – or other radio waves – meaning the airborne data is absorbed and blocked.

BBC link

Armed against recession


army shop dalstonarmedforces2

As the recession continues to bite the armed forces are experiencing an increase in the number of new recruits – which has risen 10% on last year. This surge of interest is seems not only to be a product of the recession but the Forces increasingly extensive and sophisticated self-promotion.

In addition to the web and TV based ‘Start Thinking Soldier’ campaign are a whole host of offline, regional events. Potential young recruits are being targeted at consumer events, shopping malls and schools using experiential events and arcade-style virtual reality simulators. Even in my local shopping arcade is a shop dedicated to promoting the exciting adventures a soldier will embark on with the added excitement of virtual reality gaming and cool buggies to drive.

The RAF have also launched RAF Altitude – an online magazine portal for young teenagers to sign up and learn about RAF career options. The interface includes areas to register and ‘Dive In’ to learn about RAF survival techniques, RAF history and a Youtube channel dedicated to promoting the cool life of an air force cadet.

To sew the seeds of military ambition at an even earlier age are Hasbro’s ultra realistic Action Man dolls (seen here in the window of Hamleys in April 2009). Hasbro recently reintroduced the dolls with special permission from the MoD. The figures will now come equipped with accurate replicas of the weapons used in the Iran and Afghanistan wars as opposed to the more fanciful inline skates, water pistols and snowboards.

According to BBC News:

‘The MoD says it hopes the figures will boost the profile of Britain’s serving forces. [It’s] an ideal opportunity to raise public awareness of the armed forces and what the personnel do day-by-day,” says Squadron leader Stuart Balfour. “We feel by children playing with these toys, it promotes things like discipline, sense of belonging to a wider organisation and team work.’

Visualising Crime

New York Daily Gun Deaths. Each bullet represents a death. Colors show the type of death i.e. suicide, homicide, accidental or legal police action. Counts are broken down by age group.

New York Daily Gun Deaths. Each bullet represents a death. Colors show the type of death i.e. suicide, homicide, accidental or legal police action. Counts are broken down by age group.

For almost every reported crime, there’s a paper or digital record of it somewhere, which means hundreds of thousands of data points – number of thefts, break-ins, assaults, and homicides as well as where and when the incidents occurred. The NYPD (and more recently, the LAPD) use COMPSTAT, an accountability management system driven by data.While a lot of this crime data is kept confidential to respect people’s privacy, there’s still plenty of publicly available records.

via link

Mobile scanner could detect guns


British scientists have developed a portable microwave scanner to help police identify individuals carrying concealed guns and knives. It is small enough to be used covertly, at some distance from the subject. The device is based around microwave radar technology and is designed to pick up the “reflections” of weapons concealed beneath clothing. from bbc

Man charged for dumping silicone girlfriend


On August 21, the 60-year-old unemployed resident of Izu, central Japan wrapped his 1.7-meter tall, 50-kilogram silicone girlfriend in a sleeping bag, drove to a remote wooded area, and dumped her. Two weeks later, a couple while out walking their dog spotted the body and frantically called the cops. The doll body had been wrapped in a bag and bound around the neck, waist and ankles. A head of black hair was visible from one end of the bag. via Guardian

Sex dolls now available from Japan


Japanese robot hurls net at suspected intruders


T-34 is a security robot that throws nets over intruders. The security robot was developed jointly by robot maker tmsuk Co Ltd. and Alacom Co Ltd. The remote-operated prototype robot T-34 moves at up to 10 km/hr speeds at the direction of an authorized individual with a linked mobile phone. If T-34’s sensors detect anything wrong in an office building or warehouse, the operator can see what T-34 sees in real time. The T-34 security robot can launch a net at intruders, incapacitating them until police arrive.

Related posts: Top 10 strangest anti terrorism patents


Visualising the 9/11 terrorist network

Jeffrey Heer, Alan Newberger

prefuse - 9/11 Terrorist Network Author(s): Jeffrey Heer, Alan Newberger

These images visualise suspected connections between terrorists involved in the September 11th attacks. The width of the line indicates how strong the suspected link is. People are placed on concentric circles based on the number of links between them and the central person, making it easy to measure the social distance between the central person and any other person.


Ground Zero

A Google Maps mash-up by Sydney-based design firm CarlosLabs looks at what nuclear explosions would do to cities all over the world. via bldgblog


Elderly couple mistaken for being marijuana growers.

An elderly couple who bought a pink-flowering perennial to brighten up their garden found their home and street targeted by the police and a gang of armed drug users after the innocent-looking plant began to give off a scent similar to cannabis. Link

Police now have mobile fingerprint scanners

From The Guardian Online

Every police force in the UK is to be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners – handheld devices that allow police to carry out identity checks on people in the street.The new technology, which ultimately may be able to receive pictures of suspects, is likely to be in widespread use within 18 months. Tens of thousands of sets – as compact as BlackBerry smartphones – are expected to be distributed.

The designing safe living wordle

The Designing Safe Living wordle

The Designing Safe Living wordle

Airbags for elderly people!(or drunkerds or snowboarders!)

A brilliant idea from some Japanese tech dudes

Some safe related links

Glucoboy: blood sugar testing on Nintendo Gameboy

One example of an electronic product that is specifically desigined for safe living is the GlucoBoy.

The Glucoboy is claimed to be the first ever glucose level measuring machine to be designed specifically for children and teenagers. It gives a glucose level reading in 10 seconds using only a 0.6µL sample of blood. But the key draw to the meter is that it can be integrated with the Nintendo Game Boy Advance System to encourage kids to give blood samples. To access the video games, the Glucoboy must be inserted into the cartridge slot on a Nintendo Game Boy Advance System, or into the Game Boy cartridge slot on a Nintendo DS.

The design team behind the device has also set up GRiP (Guidance Reward Platform), which is a web community that diabetes sufferers can join to talk to each other, but also win points for each time they test their glucose levels. These points can be used to unlock games or converted into games currency, like arcade tokens.

CONFERENCE CLOSING: Sheila Jasanoff – the politics of ‘expert’ design, and closing discussions.

New Sciences of Protection Conference: Plenary 4 with Sheila Jasanoff ‘Taking Risks for Safety: The US Discourse on Precaution’ and conference closing.

Sheila Jasanoff led the final plenary session. Through a comparison of the regulation and governance of embryonic stem cell research in the UK, US and Germany she dissected how different cultures of risk and safety are produced. Jasanoff drew on her own experiences as a member of the Harvard Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) Committee and compared these with the differing articulations of safety surrounding embryonic stem cell research in the UK and Germany. To think and work in terms of safety is a kind of world making which inevitably involves boundary drawing, safety for whom, safety from what. Yet this politics of safety, or in this case the politics of the safety of embryonic life forms, and of the lives which embryonic stem cell research can purportedly make safe, is often presented in depoliticized terms. Comparative study reveals safety as a contested, political, terrain. From within one cultural milieu questions of safety, arguably because of their fundamentally existential character, often appear as either technical or ethical (but not political) questions. Committees of ‘experts’, either ethical or technical (or both), thus take control of the decision making process. The comparison of these depoliticized ‘expert’ spaces certainly reveals the undecidable elements in the experts’ designs for safe living, giving pointers to where the spaces for political action might be. Despite this, however, the new sciences of protection charged with the design of safe living remain stubbornly closed to interruptions and interventions from outside these spaces of expert design.

The closing discussions revolved around the following themes: how to critique designs for safe living without generating fear, the motor of ever-more hysterical designs for safer and safer living; how to atone for the excesses of unsafety inevitably created by designs for safe living; the problem of generating alternative imaginaries of living safely in difference; the study and illumination of already existing alternative imaginaries of living safely in difference; the importance of studying the actual sites of designing safe living, or of studying the sites of power; the intimacy of utopian and dystopian imaginaries; the future of the interrelations being forged between design, political philosophy, and science and technology studies.

Thank you to our fabulous Joseph Rigby for this great summary

DREW HEMMENT AND ANDREW CLEMENT: The Ethics of Surveillance Space

New Sciences of Protection Conference: Theme Panel 4 with Drew Hemment ‘Loca: Location orientated Critical Art’ and Andrew Clement ‘Total Transparency Solutions Inc’

Drew Hemment introduced the work of ‘Loca,’ or location orientated critical art (http://www.loca-lab.org/). Loca is an artistic practice which seeks to explore the often ambiguous ethical implications of pervasive surveillance. It “looks at what happens when it is easy for everyone to track everyone, when surveillance can be effected by consumer level technology within peer-to-peer networks without being routed through a central point.” We could say that, following John McGrath, Loca seeks to stimulate reflection not on whether we want to inhabit ‘surveillance space’(for we already do), but on how we want to inhabit it.

Andrew Clement’s ‘Total Transparency Solutions’ also probes the ethical implications of inhabiting surveillance space, a space which is neither public, nor private. In particular, and as the name suggests, Total Transparency Solutions addresses the problem of transparency for the ethics of surveillance space. Relations of visibility in surveillance space are often asymmetrical, with the watched not usually being able to see the watchers. Total Transparency Solutions, who also provided the ID card scheme and safety infrastructure for the New Sciences of Protection Conference, argue that without the symmetrical visibility of watcher and watched surveillance space faces a crisis of legitimacy. They seek to address imbalances in transparency and accountability through the use of public signs like the ones below. In the absence of such ‘checks and balances’ the stratifications of surveillance space – the social sorting effected by surveillance – are without justification. It could be argued that, following Lincoln’s famous maxim for representational government, Total Transparency Solutions propose a kind of surveillance of the people, for the people, by the people.

Thank you to our fabulous Joseph Rigby for this great summary


New Sciences of Protection Conference: Plenary 3 with Tim Luke (Design as Defence) and Benjamin Bratton (Dissimulation and Terrorism)

Tim Luke and Benjamin Bratton discussed the architecture of safe living in both its actual and virtual dimensions. ‘Architecture’ is concerned with both the concrete material structuring of a space, but also with the projection of form, with a particular social-political-technical imaginary. ‘Architects,’ Benjamin Bratton reminded us, are concerned with both actual and possible cities. Discussing the architecture of designs for safe living thus involves a double-referent: to the actual architecture of the design and to the promise of safe living which is always to-come.

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CINDY WEBER: ‘I am an American’

New Sciences of Protection Conference: Exhibition on the theme ‘Designing Safe Citizens’ by Cindy Weber.

On 21 September 2001 – ten days after 9/11 – the Ad Council in the United States launched its ‘I am an American’ advertising campaign. The exhibition unsettles the Ad Council’s smooth presentation of post 9/11 American patriotism through interviews with those for whom, very recently, US citizenship has been anything but ‘safe.’ These include the son of undocumented immigrant Elvira Arellano, Greg and Glenda Avery, Hurricane Katrina evacuees who became ‘internally displaced’ refugees, and James Yee, a US army Muslim chaplain wrongly accused of being a terrorist spy. The pieces show how the fantasy of unity, wholeness and security pedalled by the designers of safe citizenship in the US remain just that, fantasies. The exhibition disarticulates and rearticulates what it means to be a US citizen in a post 9/11 context, enactments neatly summed up in Cindy Weber’s provocative reversal the US motto “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, One) to read, ‘out of one, Many.’
The original Ad Council release

Greg and Glenda Avery: We are americans

James Yee: I am an American

Thank you to our fabulous Joseph Rigby for this great summary

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture: An introduction by Jackie Stacey

“Seduction” (1986), a photograph from a series by Ms. Hershman Leeson called “Phantom Limb.”

As part of the ‘New Sciences of Protection’ conference a screening of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture was arranged. Jackie Stacey, RICC, University of Manchester, introduced the film…

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been making visual investigations of the integration of the human body and the machine and of fantasy personae for 50 years now. In particular, Leeson has been fascinated by deception, artifice and the fluid boundary between secure and insecure identities. Long before the current anxieties about security and safety, Leeson explored the technologies of the self that meant that we could adopt other people’s identities or even make up fictional ones and get people to believe in them. One of her early pieces of work involved Leeson developing a persona, Roberta Breitmore. She appeared as a performance, when Leeson took up this identity as a disguise herself, wearing a blonde wig, costume and make-up; Roberta also appeared in photographs. Roberta’s existence was substantiated when she got an apartment, employment, a psychoanalyst, a driver’s license and credit cards. When Roberta put an ad in a San Francisco newspaper for a roommate/companion, it prompted dozens of responses. Roberta agreed to meet each person (mostly men) three times only to avoid too much intimacy, and each of these meetings was recorded in surveillance photographs and tape recordings. More recently in Leeson’s exhibition of her work in the virtual environment Second Life, Roberta has re-appeared, and we hope that Lynn will be joining us here at the Dukes after the film screening through her Second Life avatar, Roberta, to discuss some of the ideas in Strange Culture on the director’s behalf.

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