Feedback is the virtue that turns democracy with all its vices, into the least-worst political system. (And) feedback is turning the incalculable Trump into a tractable, potentially successful president. Holman W. Jenkins Jr.
The latest Muslim terrorist attacks in European cities continue to change the cultural landscape of western civilization. Ground level attacks in public spaces by fellow pedestrians or vehicular terrorists are becoming the new norm for Islamists. Western governments, including our own, have not made much progress in preventing such attacks or limiting their carnage after the attack is launched. During our tour of several central European cities last May we saw that ‘best practices’ still consisted of police and militia with submachine guns patrolling amongst the civilians on streets, squares, and parks popular with both tourists and local citizenry (pictured below). From a technical and economic standpoint, that kind of a solution is both very expensive and demonstrably ineffective.
It seems to me that today’s technology offers a better way to perform large area surveillance and terror suppression in urban areas. To outline the concept for such a Large Area Surveillance and Suppression (LASS) system, think of the thousands of security cameras which already record our every movement once we leave our homes. A better surveillance network of remotely directed cameras with appropriate optics (e.g. including night vision) and co-axial infrared laser designators can be mounted on appropriate rooftops surrounding the defended public space. These cameras are remoted to central command and control centers in the city. Their image outputs are monitored there both manually and by AI algorithms trained to do certain kinds of detection, classification, and tracking of both individuals and vehicles. When a potentially threatening pedestrian becomes a ‘person of interest’ he is designated with the IR laser and tracked until his behavior either lowers his threat level or until he is neutralized.
The networked surveillance subsystem is integrated with a neutralization subsystem that consists of multiple weapon stations which can project both deadly and disabling force. Among the inventory of such stations would be remotely operated sniper rifles, 20mm cannon (to rapidly disable rogue vehicles), and various kinds of non-lethal projectiles, riot gases, and visibility denying smoke. These remotely operated LASS weapon stations would be located so that their overlapping fields of fire completely cover the defended area. LASS would, of course, be integrated and coordinated with existing ground level patrols which are then comprised of much lower staffing levels, and rely on mobile fast response units (e.g. SWAT and EMR) that deploy once LASS has either identified and/or engaged the bad guy(s). (That more concrete and steel barriers will be erected to impede high speed vehicular mayhem in pedestrian areas is a given.)
In any event, the idea here is to field a system that uses the latest technology to surveil and suppress large areas of pedestrian traffic in a cost effective manner. Such a LASS would have the ability to detect, concurrently screen and track tens of people who might pose a risk, while minimizing both the security headcount on the ground and the deadly effects (both intended and collateral) of an attack by a timely and precise engagement that avoids horizon plane suppression fires. To determine the exact system design and parameters would require some noodling. But I believe the LASS concept is worth a detailed look because what is there now does not work well, and there is no evidence that we will do anything else to limit the number of radicalized ragheads among us. Welcome to another step back for western civilization.
(Spoiler Alert: This ought to loosen some more progressive histrionics. And perhaps some creative alternative solutions to minimize terrorism by, say, removing/covering all visible Christian symbols in our land and having women wear hijabs. If that is not enough, then revoking all females’ drivers licenses and launch public stoning of those accused of LGBTQ… persuasions can be tried next.)
[22dec16 update] Given the usual anti-gun, anti-2ndAmend comments for which the above post is progressives' dog whistle, I thought it relevant to highlight the figure that one of our commenters below again draws our attention - the powerful message it conveys has already been featured in these pages.