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It’s not exactly a new computer game, but a security system in Texas does allow online users to become “virtual detectives.”
The new $2 million dollar surveillance project involves closed circuit cameras located on the border between Texas and Mexico which then stream images online. The public can then watch the images from the comfort of their own homes and report any suspicious activity they see.
So far the system has only amounted to one crime bust in six weeks, but it was a big one. Some civic-minded (or more likely bored) citizen caught three suspects bringing 540 pounds of marijuana over the border.
But enough about the pounds and pounds of pot... Who are these “virtual detectives?” Wired explains:
More than 21,000 people from several states, including as far away as Ohio, have signed up to be virtual deputies so far. BlueServo claims its web site has received more than 5 million hits, resulting in about 1,000 e-mail reports of suspicious activity. The average camera watcher spends about eight minutes on the site examining video.
What do virtual deputies get in return for their efforts?
Aside from the satisfaction of knowing they've done their part to combat crime, they get the opportunity to become targeted consumers.
The web site notes that "in the future BlueServo anticipates that high volume of traffic to its website will generate advertising revenue to defray the operations cost of the Virtual Community Watch to the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition." To sign up to become a virtual deputy, the site requires you to provide your e-mail address, age, gender, and postal code.
It makes perfect sense: You help capture criminals, companies get to capture your business. Genius.