Jun 18, 2015

Eye in the Sky

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team came up with an idea. With a small plane and a 44 mega-pixel camera, they figured out how to watch an entire city all at once, all day long. Whenever a bomb detonated, they could zoom onto that spot and then, because this eye in the sky had been there all along, they could scroll back in time and see - literally see - who planted it. After the war, Ross McNutt retired from the airforce, and brought this technology back home with him. Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark from the podcast “Note to Self” give us the low-down on Ross’s unique brand of persistent surveillance, from Juarez, Mexico to Dayton, Ohio. Then, once we realize what we can do, we wonder whether we should.

Special thanks to Dan Tucker and George Schulz.

If you're looking for the updated version of this show, you can check it out here.

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You are listening to Radiolab. Radio from WNYC.

 

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C?

 

Title Sequence:

Yeah.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So, how did you guys find out about this? How'd you get into it?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

I think it was somebody was reading about it. Wasn't it?

 

Jad Abumrad:

This is Manoush Zomorodi.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

It was you reading about it.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Right.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And that's her producer Alex Goldmark.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And I just said, "His name is McNnutt." I just wanted to do a show where I get to say that name at least 10 times, please. But then like we actually read it and it was weird and interesting and brought up lots of issues.

 

Barack Obama:

Technology is remaking what is possible for individuals and for institutions and for the international order.

 

Jad Abumrad:

I'm Jad Abumrad.

 

Robert Krulwich:

I'm Robert Krulwich.

 

Jad Abumrad:

This is Radiolab. So here we are at this moment in time where we're faced with these decisions.

 

Robert Krulwich:

About what we want our future to to look like, be like.

 

Barack Obama:

There are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do. That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Today we're going to look at the can and the should with our friends down the hall, Manoush Zomorodi, and Alex Goldmark. They run a great podcast called Note to Self. They will be our guides into the world of.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

McNutt.

 

Ross McNutt:

Yes. My name's Ross McNutt.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So, the McNutt, as I refer to him, he's an ex-military guy.

 

Ross McNutt:

Did 20 years in the Air Force. I enjoyed it. I did a lot of good.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Like combat military?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He was an engineer in the military.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Yeah, I mean I think he's actually special military.

 

Ross McNutt:

My background, I've got a PhD in rapid product development out of MIT and what I do is I teach young people how to build new systems.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And the new system, that's the system that we want to talk about, that kind of began in 2004. Ross was teaching a course at a military college.

 

Ross McNutt:

Was at the Air Force Institute of technology here at Wright-Patterson and Dayton.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He says, one day in 2004 the whole school gathered together for a rally.

 

Ross McNutt:

And our commander got up in front of the whole school and said, "We need to do something to help the war effort."

 

TV Reporter:

Terrible violence today in the Iraqi city of Basra.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So at that time in the Iraq war-

 

Ross McNutt:

Before the surge-

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Things were not right going well.

 

TV Reporter:

Suicide bombs ripped through police buildings and city streets..

 

Ross McNutt:

IEDs going off all over the place.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Constant news about IEDs going off everywhere, soldiers being blown up.

 

Richard Biehl:

In one week I got blown up three times.

 

Ross McNutt:

And to be honest with you, in 2004 it looked like we were going to lose.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So Ross, he gets together some of the students, some of his colleagues, and they decide, you know, let's sit down and see if we can find a solution quickly. Find a solution to figuring out who is planting all these roadside bombs.

 

Ross McNutt:

Yeah, bombs going off. We're pretty easy to detect in images. The problem is how do you go from a bomb going off backwards in time to be able to figure out who planted it. So somehow, you know, it just came out and-

 

Alex Goldmark:

Was like you guys sitting around?

 

Ross McNutt:

It was at a bar. We were working on the back of a napkin and withdrawing out different ideas and throwing them around and seeing what happens.

 

Alex Goldmark:

They were just like, "Hey, let's use planes. Let's try this, let's try that."

 

Ross McNutt:

And then-

 

Alex Goldmark:

They hit on it.

 

Ross McNutt:

This one stuck and we sort of drew this out on the back of an envelope.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Making it took a little while.

 

Ross McNutt:

I had 38 students working for me for two years.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

But eventually they developed what became known as Project Angel Fire. And here's how it worked. They take a small plane and on the belly of the plane, they hook up this array of cameras that sort of swivel around.

 

Ross McNutt:

The camera system we designed and built.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Super high end, and then the pilot takes off, flies the plane high over Fallujah.

 

Ross McNutt:

In the military, we were up at about 15 to 16,000 feet to stay out of the missile range.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Let's say I'm an Iraqi on the ground in Fallujah, and I look up, what would I see?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

You wouldn't see us. You wouldn't hear us or you wouldn't see.

 

Alex Goldmark:

So you've got this plane flying just below the clouds doing an orbit over Fallujah. Circle, circle, circle.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

For six hours at a time.

 

Alex Goldmark:

And every second-

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Click, click, click, click.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Every second it takes a still image of the entire city of Fallujah, 25 square miles, and then beams it down to an operator.

 

Ross McNutt:

We take a picture, process it, down link it, every single second.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So the plane is snapping picture after picture, picture after picture. But here's what makes the system so powerful. The operator on the ground has, let's say, an entire day's worth of these high-res pictures of the entire city of Fallujah. And then let's say there's an explosion.

 

Ross McNutt:

Officials say at least 20 people were killed in explosions at a market.

 

Ross McNutt:

...people, and wounds 11 others.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

First, the operator would pull up the most current image of the city, zoom into the place within Fallujah where it happened, and then click, click, click, in one second increments, go back in time and see who was there, what happened.

 

Alex Goldmark:

When was the last time somebody fiddled around in that-

 

Jad Abumrad:

In that spot.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Yeah, and you're like, okay, I've gone back two hours and ah, it's that car.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Fast forward, click, click, click. They can now follow that car forward in time to see where it goes.

 

Alex Goldmark:

And you see that it went to a house in another neighborhood two miles away. Well, that's where you dispatch your troops to right then.

 

Ross McNutt:

Basically we'd be able to send either the Special Forces in or the Marines in and sort of take appropriate action.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

It's not like they release a lot of statistics about how well their technology has worked. But you will find several quotes from officers saying that yes, Project Angel Fire did save lives.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

But the reason why we decided to do this story is because it's not just a military thing. Right? Like with a lot of these technologies, they maybe start in the military, but then they trickle down all the way down to all of us. And actually in this case it trickled down to Dayton, Ohio.

 

Andy Mills:

Ross group incorporated. Do you think that's it guys? I really think that's it.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Is that his first name?

 

Andy Mills:

Yeah, it'd be weird.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Oh, you've got to go with the pun.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Producer Andy mills and I actually went to Dayton, Ohio to visit Ross at his business. Persistent surveillance systems.

 

Andy Mills:

There it is!

 

Jad Abumrad:

Persistent surveillance systems, right. That feels, brilliant.

 

Ross McNutt:

Yep. These are the lenses and the motors here basically control it.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So first we went over to his workshop where he actually works and makes the cameras.

 

Ross McNutt:

These are more powerful than some of the best military systems.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Like we could see him actually making them and how they get attached to the bottoms of the airplane.

 

Andy Mills:

Oh, so many airplanes.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Then we went over to the hangar where he has all the airplanes.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

They're beautiful!

 

Ross McNutt:

So overall, we've got 27 airplanes we operate.

 

Ross McNutt:

After you guys.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Oh my God, it's big!

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And then he showed us their command center and this is where you have a bunch of people sitting in front of these enormous screens.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

This is like your viewing room?

 

Ross McNutt:

Yeah.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And this is where all the plane pictures end up. Because Ross's basic idea in taking this technology from Fallujah to a city like Dayton, Ohio is basically this.

 

Ross McNutt:

U.S. Cities have just as large a problem as we do in Afghanistan and Iraq, only it's not IEDs, it's crime.

 

Richard Biehl:

We've had a lot of major events this year. We've had four officer involved shootings so far this year. Our homicides are up this year.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So this is Dayton police chief, Richard Biehl.

 

Richard Biehl:

B-I-E-H-L.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

I talked to him last summer a couple of years ago. Ross called him up and was like, look.

 

Ross McNutt:

A city like Dayton, Ohio, we've got 28,000 crimes a year, about 10,000 part one crimes.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Murder, rape, assault.

 

Ross McNutt:

10,000 part one crimes comes out to be $480 million a year.

 

SponsorMessage1:

But, McNutt is like, for the about the price of a police helicopter-

 

Ross McNutt:

We believe that we would be able to decrease crime by 30 to 40%. 30% decrease in that as $155 million a year.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

The Dayton police were like-

 

Richard Biehl:

Alrighty.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Let's give it a shot.

 

Richard Biehl:

We basically set up a test in June of 2012 for a five day flight to see for ourselves what it was capable of doing.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

They sent the plane up in the air, it starting doing its thing just like in Fallujah and within just a few hours-

 

Richard Biehl:

There was a call of this, a breaking and entering in progress with a description of a van.

 

Angie Horn:

It was an older white box truck, just a regular random moving truck.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

This is Angie Horn. She's the one who called 911. She was just home on her lunch break and she sees a moving van pull up in front of her neighbor's house. The guy gets out, breaks in, starts moving furniture out.

 

Angie Horn:

So we immediately called the police. They got there relatively quickly from what I remember, but he had already taken off.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Now normally in a case like this, the police would be like, well, how do we follow him? We don't know where he went, but in this case, the police contact Persistent Surveillance Systems and ultimately they get connected to this guy.

 

Alex Blasingame:

My name is Alex Blasingame. I'm the senior analyst for the company.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Alex pulls up the image of Dayton, zooms in clicks backwards about five minutes until he sees this little grainy white dot appear in front of her neighbor's house.

 

Alex Blasingame:

This is the vehicle here that we're wanting to track.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

I'm sorry, what vehicle? I don't, I barely see anything.

 

Alex Blasingame:

Right, so the image looks real blurry, but the human brain and the human eyes are very, very evolved to pick out movement.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

You've got to understand that from two miles up a car looks just like a random shape and people, they look like pixels. Alex has trained himself to pick out movement.

 

Alex Blasingame:

I'm going to put a tag down on where he's at.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He places an orange circle over that random little shape and then click, click, click. He moves forward, forward, forward.

 

Alex Blasingame:

To follow him to his real time location.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Alex follows it up some roads, finds out that it is parked in a parking lot.

 

Alex Blasingame:

Six blocks away.

 

Alex Goldmark:

He calls up the people in the field goes, go over there. They get there, they see the guy, they see a truck full of stuff, they send a different cop over to pick up the witness, witness goes, "Yep, that's the guy."

 

Jad Abumrad:

Oh, the lady who called.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Yeah, this is minutes later.

 

Jad Abumrad:

No kidding.

 

Alex Goldmark:

That could have been a murderer, right? That could could've been an armed robber. It could've been a lot of things.

 

Robert Krulwich:

This is so weird. It's like having a superpower.

 

Jad Abumrad:

It is kind of.

 

Robert Krulwich:

This is actually better than Batman. You can't go back and forth in time if you're a superhero.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

I just feel sad. It's like we're all just these little dots. It just seems like the antithesis of what a lot of police departments seem to be trying to do in the aftermath of Ferguson and Staten Island and other horrific things that have happened, which is getting the police on the streets, making personal connections, creating relationships.

 

Richard Biehl:

There's nothing in this system that prevents you from having effective community policing at the same time and oh by the way, this may dramatically help that community relations. The reason they're putting body cams on police officers is try to get the police officers to be more respectful because they can be seen, while this lets us watch all the officers in a 25 square mile area all at once.

 

Robert Krulwich:

But then you can watch so many other people all at once.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Here's other things that people in Dayton do, like Romeo and Juliet, they sometimes meet without their parents' permission in the playground and smooch. There are going to be divorce lawyers who are going to be tracking errant spouses. There are going to be traffic police who are watching, who goes through the red light. There are going to be realtors who are wondering how many tenants do you really have in that building? And I guess the thought might be that if the information exists that will show what my pixel was actually doing, then then I'm a little less free.

 

Ross McNutt:

There is a clear trade off between security and privacy and you know, in our major cities where we have tens of thousands of major crimes, you are a lot less free when you can't leave your house at night.

 

Robert Krulwich:

There's obviously a an a huge advantage to knowing what you know, but then there's a huge thing to knowing what you know. Like knowledge all by itself is sort of, is pregnant with funny...

 

Jad Abumrad:

You know, here's my problem with this, with all of these privacy stories. It's like when you're talking about these technologies, the advantages are always so concrete and the trade offs always feel so abstract. I feel like there is something being lost here, but I can never quite put my finger on it. It's weird.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Oh, Jad, that weirdness that you're feeling?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yes.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

It's going to get a lot weirder.

 

Jad Abumrad:

We'll be right back.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

[inaudible]

 

SponsorMessage3:

Hey, this is Jenny Rinehand from Round Lake, new York. Radiolab is supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Hey, I'm Jad Abumrad.

 

Robert Krulwich:

I'm Robert Krulwich.

 

Jad Abumrad:

This is Radio Lab and we'll continue our collaboration with Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark from Note to Self.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And a subject is, and remains, eyes in the sky.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And the situation when we left it is that Manoush and one of our producers, Andy Mills had gone down to Dayton, Ohio to talk with Ross McNutt, check out his technology. And a after the Dayton demo, how are you feeling about things?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Well I was feeling like, uh, you have not convinced me. I am not going for this. And then I saw Juarez, Mexico. And that, well, I mean that's what made me start to think otherwise.

 

Ross McNutt:

Juarez, especially at the time we did this, they averaged 300 murders a month and 52 kidnappings a week.

 

Andy Mills:

300 murders a month?

 

Ross McNutt:

Yeah.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

McNutt and the gang, they got a contract, we've been asked not to say for whom, and they went down South, set themselves up in a hotel room, got the plane up in the sky and then whoever the client was started bringing them crime reports.

 

Ross McNutt:

So this is kind of what you never want to see happen, but this is kind of why the system was up.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Alex pulls up on the screen, this very grainy aerial shot of Juarez.

 

Ross McNutt:

This is Juarez, Mexico.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

It looks like any city, right? You've got grids of streets and cars and houses and then like over on the left of the screen, he points to this dark little square. It's a vehicle that's going down the street.

 

Ross McNutt:

This is a female police officer. She was actually headed to work on this morning, so we'll kind of go through it here.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He starts at the beginning and you see there's her house and her car is parked outside. You see that like teeny little pixel gets in her car.

 

Ross McNutt:

And she pulls out of her driveway. That was her home.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Starts to drive to work and then-

 

Ross McNutt:

Right when she leaves, if you look up here.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He points to the upper left of the screen.

 

Ross McNutt:

Several cars were parked up on the corner. As soon as she left her driveway, those cars become active.

 

Andy Mills:

So this is a stakeout?

 

Ross McNutt:

Yeah, they were waiting for her to leave.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He's so zoomed in that you can see, it's like a ticktack moving down the street and then two more tic-tacs come alongside.

 

Ross McNutt:

Until they get right about here.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He's clicking forward on the photo and you see.

 

Ross McNutt:

Right, there is a speed bump.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

These cars just inch closer.

 

Ross McNutt:

So she'll kind of hesitate there, which is unfortunate.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So she's driving down the street and there's these cars following behind her and then there's this car up ahead of her.

 

Ross McNutt:

A vehicle that had been parked here for 15, 20, 30 minutes, all of the sudden backs out into traffic and seemingly slows them down. Almost gets in an accident right here, which gives these guys enough time to catch up. This is where they're going to pull up beside her.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And then suddenly, Alex says this is the point where-

 

Ross McNutt:

Here the first car pulls up and shoots her multiple times.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

She was shot in the head.

 

Ross McNutt:

Multiple times in the head right here. She's actually going to roll through the intersection.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Her car continues to go, even though she's been shot in the head.

 

Ross McNutt:

There is a parked car behind this tree and you'll actually see this parked car move when she runs into it. And then these guys take off.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Yeah, it was not fun to watch. It was upsetting. But what happens next made me really start to understand what this technology is capable of.

 

Ross McNutt:

I just wanted to, real quickly just show you some of the other-

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Ross walks in, he takes that moment, horrible moment and then he starts to like shoot back and forth in time.

 

Ross McNutt:

Suspect car one, here's his path before the murder, here's his path after the murder.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

He actually takes the two cars from that murder and you see he draws on the map. You see that they meet up with two other cars.

 

Ross McNutt:

See that guy there?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

That were involved in a different murder. Now one murder becomes two, two cars become four.

 

Ross McNutt:

Car stops.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And if you follow all four of these cars, drawing lines as they move through the city, you find out who they meet up with and four becomes eight, eight becomes 16, so on and so on. And you have all these lines criss-crossing the city and then you see that all whole bunch of those cars are headed to one place.

 

Ross McNutt:

This house, this house appears to be their cartel headquarters.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And that's when you start to think, well that's how you have to take something like this down. It's not a one shot thing like solving the crime. It's about cracking an entire system.

 

Andy Mills:

In fact, this is Andy here, when I was doing some, some background research on this part of the story, I spoke with this one source from the U.S. Government who told me that this information, that Ross had just showed us like it was one of the primary tools used to dismantle an entire cartel Juarez, and that apparently the leader of that cartel was responsible for something like 1500 murders.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Whoa. So I gotta ask again. So how are you feeling at this point? Are you happy or scared or I don't know?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

I felt ashamed of myself because I thought, oh, the reason why I'm so excited about it is it because it's in a country where I don't live and I'm an outsider and I think of it as being messed up. So it's okay for them, but it's still not okay for us. What did you think Andy?

 

Andy Mills:

I mean like this is where I stopped being a good journalist because I picked a side. It feels wrong to not solve these crimes that we can solve.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And what if this plane is on top of New York?

 

Andy Mills:

Good.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

God, really?

 

Andy Mills:

For me it became-

 

ManoushZomorodi:

But do you remember like after 9/11 when you'd walk down the street and you'd hear the F-16s circling over the city? And I just remember the feeling in my stomach was like nausea. Like I felt sick. It felt gross. It felt like we had no autonomy over ourselves. And at that point I was scared enough that I could live with it. But right now I don't feel that way. And look, it's a very privileged position to be able to say that we shouldn't have it, I get that.

 

Andy Mills:

That's what I'm saying. Like I've became a convert because like somebody got kidnapped today, and if we had an eye in the sky, we might be able to get the kid back in a few minutes hours compared to like, you see the stats on, on Amber alerts, they're not good.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Yeah. But what we're talking about is like, and I'm not saying that I'm like anti McNutt at all, but what I'm saying is it's very easy to paint it as we're going to get bad guys. And I just don't think it's that simple. The McNutt and Co., They seem like decent people. They have set limitations for themselves. They have said they will not use photography that could get any closer. They've made a moral choice with that. How do we know other people will make the same moral choice?

 

Andy Mills:

You're saying that even though this thing might solve a ton of crimes, might save lives, it's still not worth the risk because it just asks a level of trust in government that we shouldn't, we shouldn't give. Is that what you're saying?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

For now, yes.

 

Robert Krulwich:

So back to Dayton. What happened in Dayton?

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Well-

 

Richard Biehl:

I was pretty impressed. I was pretty impressed.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

After that five day demo, the police chief, Richard Biehl-

 

Richard Biehl:

I recommended that we enter into a contract with Persistent Surveillance Systems.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And so, they took it to the City Commission.

 

Kerry Grey:

Hi, this is Kerry Grey.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Oh Kerry. It's Manoush in New York.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And according to Carrie Grey-

 

Kerry Grey:

Director of the City Commission Office for the city of Dayton, Ohio .

 

ManoushZomorodi:

The Committee saw the presentation and they liked it.

 

Kerry Grey:

The City Commission was interested in the presentation.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

But they decided that before they go forward, they should have a public forum. So they could just, you know, sort of hear from the people.

 

Kerry Grey:

There was about 75 or so people there.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And he says that the people of Dayton, like much like the people of Radiolab and Note to S`elf, we're very divided.

 

Kerry Grey:

A quarter of the people were supportive of this technology and they were frustrated with the amount of crime. Their belief was, I'm not doing anything wrong so I don't care what people see me doing. We want this implemented and we want it implemented very broadly.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So a quarter of them were like, you know, bring it on. They were basically in the Andy camp.

 

Andy Mills:

Woohoo.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

But then there was another group, slightly smaller, but now my much.

 

Kerry Grey:

Maybe 15%.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

That was the Robert and Manoush camp.

 

Kerry Grey:

Who believed that this was a grotesque invasion of privacy, and some of the people spoke in very impassioned terms. So I think calling it grotesque invasion of privacy would pretty much reflect the way this group was feeling.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

This group, too.

 

Kerry Grey:

And that there was no way that you could trust government with this volume of information and this breadth of information.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So you had your pros and your cons. The rest of the people, like the majority-

 

Kerry Grey:

Maybe had some feelings one way or another, but just didn't have enough information. And so they came and kind of asked questions.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Like how long will persistent surveillance systems keep the images? 90 days. How far can they zoom in? Can they see my face? No. So they had a lot of questions, which Kerry seems to think that they could've answered. They could've gotten everybody on board. But in the end, even though the room was basically divided into three parts, the naysayers were so loud and so impassioned that they sort of defined the conversation.

 

Robert Krulwich:

As we do.

 

Kerry Grey:

So we took that lesson to understand that there was going to be some significant education that was going to be needed and some significant hurdles that were going to have to be crossed before we were able to do a broad based implementation. And based on the amount of time that was going to have to be spent, we decided there were other more immediate techniques that could be used that could be invested in and we took the money that could have been spent on this and spent it on some other activities.

 

Jad Abumrad:

It seems like what you're saying is that like it was just going to be too hard to get people over the hurdle. So like eh, it's not worth it.

 

Kerry Grey:

Yeah, I think that's probably accurate.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

So the plane is off the table so to speak.

 

Kerry Grey:

It's off the table for right now, but that doesn't mean that it's never coming back on the table.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Which I think is fair to say, is frustrating to him.

 

Ross McNutt:

Right now. We've got about $150 million worth of the proposal sitting out there for a large number of cities. Baltimore, Philadelphia, we've been to Moscow, we've been the London. We're waiting for them to make decisions. We've done Compton we've been to Rome.

 

Andy Mills:

Compton's like, "Maybe." Juarez is like, "Maybe." Dayton is like, "Maybe.

 

Ross McNutt:

There's a whole lot of maybes out there.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

And McNutt and his team are doing now, and this is actually what they were doing when we went to visit them, they're analyzing-

 

Ross McNutt:

What we're doing here in Dayton is we are looking at a turn pike or something.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Yeah, traffic in New Jersey. They're studying traffic problems.

 

Ross McNutt:

We look at congested areas which are typically, especially in that part of the country, exits on ramps. Any kind of junction in a highway. Well, sometimes you just want to scream.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

McNutt. McNutt, McNutt, McNutt. I think that might be 10 times.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Well, thank you. Manoush.

 

ManoushZomorodi:

Thank you.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Thank you, Alex.

 

Alex Goldmark:

Yeah, sure.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Special thanks this hour, of course to Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark, also to Dan Tucker and George Shoals.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And I would urge everybody listening right now to go to iTunes and download the latest podcasts from Note to Self. It's a show that's all about grappling with the difficult questions of living in the digital world, and their latest podcast, it's got a story that I don't believe anyone else has really told. It's a story about another kind of technology that can sort of see into your private spaces. And this one is arguably way more invasive than the one we talked about in this podcast. Note to Self on iTunes, check it out. We'll also link you there from radiolab.org. I'm Jad Abumrad.

 

Robert Krulwich:

I'm Robert Krulwich.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Thanks for listening.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Yep.

 

Jad Abumrad:

We'll be watching.

 

SponsorMessage7:

My name is [scrambled], and I live on [scrambled] in Dayton. I'm here to register my concern regarding the airborne surveillance that was discussed earlier.

 

SarumanTheWhite:

A great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame.

 

Speaker 18:

I'd also like to register my concern with the so-called surveillance program. This was the stuff of science fiction when Orwell wrote 1994.

 

Speaker 19:

What policies does Dayton have in place to prevent using the data in a racially biased way?

 

Jad Abumrad:

This piece was produced by Andy Mills and we had original music from Dylan Keefe.

 

Credits:

Received at 4:50 PM. Hey, it's Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC's Note to Self.

 

Credits:

This is Alex Goldmark with the credits. Radiolab is produced by Jad Abumrad.

 

Credits:

Their staff, our staff, includes Brenna Farrell, Alan Horn.

 

Credits:

Dylan Keefe, Matt Kielty, Lynn Levy.

 

Credits:

Andy Mills, Latif Nasser, Malissa O'Donnell, Kelsey Padgett.

 

Credits:

Arianne Wack, Molly Webster, Soren Wheeler, and Jamie York.

 

Credits:

With help from Damiano. Is it Damiano or Damiano? With help from Damiano Marchetti, Molly Jacobson and Alexandra Lee Young.

 

Credits:

Our fact checkers are Eva Dasher and Michelle Harris.

 

Credits:

That's it, right? Okay, bye.

 

Credits:

End of message.

 

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