Monday, April 16, 2007

Security on cruise ships... and college campuses

Cruise Sunset
Originally uploaded by hk_traveller.
I've been thinking today about security... and safety...

Aaron Kirley, BellaOnline's Cruises Editor, notes that security on cruise ships is intrusive and high tech. Okay, he doesn't use the word intrusive, but let's just say I'm surprised the Air Force Academy cadet was able to launch himself from the balcony without ship's security knowing he'd done it:
Every passenger embarking on a Cruise Ship experiences screening processes similar to that of commercial airline checkpoints. Passengers must show valid ID and Cruise Tickets to enter the ship. Upon entering the ship every passenger is logged and photographed. These photographs are stored internally and cross referenced every time a passenger presents their Cruise Ship ID badge throughout the trip. On many cruse ships the photographs are cross referenced against terrorist databases using cutting edge facial recognition software. Cruise Ship ID badges are required to eat, make purchases, and access restricted areas aboard the ship. Passengers pass through metal detectors and their luggage is x-rayed and searched if necessary to prevent metal weapons (and illegal alcohol) from entering the ship.


Many newer cruise ships are outfitted with cutting edge security and surveillance systems. Professional non-uniformed security personnel blend in with passengers and work to keep the ship secure while it’s at sea. Behind hidden doors sophisticated surveillance systems monitor the activity of passengers and crew with cameras. Every time a passenger swipes their key card for a drink or to open a door their movement is tracked. Very little is actually known about the full extent of technology used on cruise ships but suffice it to say you and everyone else on board are being monitored to keep the peace at sea.
And we thought 1984 was fiction.

After today, I can see people clamoring for this sort of technology in schools and colleges. Imagine a future where when you walk onto a college campus, your picture is taken, your ID is checked, and a RFID tag is put around your wrist like a bracelet. Visting just for the day? You still get the treatment. Starting life as a student? Perhaps instead of the bracelet, your RFID tag is imbedded in your arm.

Now we can track your movement. Doors open, or remain locked, depending on your RFID tag. Become a "person of interest" and it will not take two hours to find you as the central surveillance computer knows all, in real time.

Are we headed down this path that our lives will become like lives on a cruise ship, monitored and vetted minute by minute?

Hat tip to Eagle 1 for his post which pointed me toward Mr. Kirley's essay.

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