X-ray cameras could be installed on lampposts on British streets to spot armed terrorists and other criminals, it has been claimed. According to a leaked memo seen by The Sun, “detection of weapons and explosives will become easier” if the scheme drawn up by Home Office officials is adopted.
0 responses to “X-ray cameras on lampposts. This is a spoof… right?”
I suspect that “X-ray cameras” is technically-challenged shorthand for “high-tech scanning equipment”: not even our Government would be daft enough to bathe everyone in lethal X-rays. But still…
They are probably terahertz imagers – the giveaway is the bit about seeing people naked. People designing them reckon they could get the size down to a shoe box in a few years, so they could, in principle, go on a lamppost. But that’s the least of the problems in getting these things to detect hidden weapons.
The Sun will have recast ‘terahertz waves’ into ‘X-rays’ on the basis that Joe Public knows roughly what X-rays are and it’s all EM waves, innit?
Apparently these guys are developing the technology, here’s a (short) description of the technology on their website:
Doesn’t mention how big the cameras are though.
Found some info on passive millimetre wave scanning here:
The human body has a high emissivity and emits a great deal of millimeter-wave energy (between 30 and 300 GHz)- it shows up as hot on a millimeter imaging system. By contrast, a concealed gun, for instance, has a low emissivity and a high reflectivity – it reflects the ambient energy (at the temperature of the surroundings) and shows up as cold on the scan. The temperature differential with respect to the surroundings allows for the discrimination of the weapon being carried.
So that explains the “seeing through clothes” thing: the body is imaged clearly, and clothes presumably do not image much. That also may be the source of The Sun’s “X-ray” confusion: it’s like dem X-ray specs, innit?
God, I love blogging. This is fascinating – thanks folks.
Here’s the less excited and more reasonable analysis at the BBC:
I tend to agree, technically possible, but practically very unlikely to be implemented and useful. Far too many false positives will make it a very costly failure.
Thanks for that, Armin. You’re right, it’s a tad more measured… although the same can’t be said of the commenters.
Well, I must say if my plane was hijacked IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOODY HIGH STREET I’d be a bit miffed.
Without wanting to be too political, do phrases such as “too many false positives”, “costly failure”, “if my plane was hijacked IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOODY HIGH STREET” actually register in Westminster?
So far, I can only imagine John Reid asking, “What? So they’re not *real* X-Rays?”
Well, if the ID card consultation was any indication, no. 5,000-odd negative responses were counted as one single comment, enabling the government to say with a straight face that the public were overwhelmingly in favour of ID cards and the only person against them was a Mister Internet.
Incidentally, I do think that anyone who reads about the destruction of civil liberties, uses the phrase “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear” and *means it* should be returned forcibly to whichever village has lost its idiot.