Will millions of cameras in Washington DC make surveillance easier?

When I wrote about Photosynth in June 2007, I wondered what it might do for crowd-sourcing mega events, even political ones.

That day has come.

Microsoft (which now owns Photosynth) has teamed up with CNN to enable all those snapping up the moment in history, to share those images, and more importantly knit them together as one composite.

It’s not just  the collaborative potential of this technology that’s mind-boggling. It gives new meaning to what we often refer to as the Big Picture, letting you look at a something in fine detail from multiple angles and distances, and in a thousand of different ways. You can zoom, tilt, look at a person or an object from its side, and often get a close-up view.

From a surveillance angle, this could be a great deterrent to anyone planning mischief. After all, any moment during the inauguration will easily be captured not by the surveillance cameras — there are some 5,000 in the area –but by the hoi polloi.

photosynthTake a look at this image of the Capitol (Sorry, but you’ll need to download a small application on your computer first to use Photosynth) and you’ll see what I mean. You could move in so close to the dome, and the windows below, you could spot the surveillance camera looking down at you!

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