Eyes On The Spies
U.S. sites vulnerable to terrorist attacks number in the hundreds of thousands, and protecting them all from spies or saboteurs would require a new security force. U.S. HomeGuard, conceived by Walker Digital’s Jay Walker, founder of Priceline, is designed to provide such a security force by recruiting ordinary citizens with home computers over the Internet to act as watchdogs. These “spotters” would be paid $8 to $10 an hour to review footage of sensitive locations captured by on-site digital cameras equipped with night vision; the sites are normally expected to remain unoccupied, so the footage viewed by spotters would only feature any suspicious movements caught on camera. Spotters would push mouse buttons to confirm or deny the presence of a possible intruder at the site under observation, or to indicate uncertainty. If two or more spotters agree that an unauthorized party is in a restricted area, the footage would be sent to a central security office that would notify the site of a possible intrusion. U.S. HomeGuard takes advantage of digital piecework, a Walker Digital research project to enable people to carry out hourly clerical work on their home computers. Another plus of U.S. HomeGuard is its dependence on widely available technology rather than specialized systems. Although security experts caution that U.S. HomeGuard could be crippled by a cyberattack, either directly or indirectly, the concept has attracted attention from the security sector; former Hart-Rudman National Security Commission executive director Charles Boyd says he considers U.S. HomeGuard to be “interesting and appealing.” Some $1 million has already been poured into U.S. HomeGuard research and development, and Walker reports that he would sell the concept to the government for only a dollar.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Boston Globe (05/05/03) P. C1; Bray, Hiawatha.