On April 15, 2013, during the Boston Marathon, homemade explosions were detonated near the finish line taking the life of 3 Americans and injuring more than 260. The explosive devices were determined to be two pressure cookers strategically set to detonate 210 yards apart at 13 second intervals. The investigation lead was taken over by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who released photographs and surveillance footage of two particular suspects on April 18. The two individuals were categorized as Chechen brother named Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Once these photos were released to the public, the two brothers took the life of an MIT police officer, carjacked a sport utility vehicle and exchanged gun fire with the Watertown police. The shoot out resulted in a second officer being critically injured while one of the suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev was determined dead at the scene, younger brother Dzhokhar escaped with injuries. A Watertown manhunt followed the April 19 event with thousands of law enforcement personnel converging on a cordoned 20 block search area.
Throughout the day long search, Watertown and nearby residents were warned to stay indoors with many public establishments closed. Later that day, the “shelter in place” advisory was lifted for the Watertown area. Shortly after these statements, a Watertown resident found the alleged suspect hiding in his back yard inside the family boat. Police forces converged on the area and arrested Dzhokhar. He was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. At the hospital, an initial questioning took place. Dzhokhar claimed his brother was the brains behind the incident and they were personally motivated because of the Afghan and Iraqi wars.
They were indoctrinated with extremist Islamic beliefs and proclaimed as self-radicalized and had no outsourced connections to any terror groups around the globe. The brothers learned how to make the improvised explosive devices from online magazines that were linked back to an Al Qaeda connection from Yemen. (Logiurato & Blodget, 2013) CCTV Cameras CCTV cameras played a key role in identifying the Boston bombing individuals. The use of these pixelated and grainy images where distributed throughout the social media.
Even with this circumstantial success, security professionals have major concerns in how the use of the CCTV systems in the future could potentially create just as many problems as they solve. In any situation having camera networks on local streets and in public areas truly increases the opportunity of capturing would be criminals in the act. This can also create a massive amount of overwhelming evidence to search through. These camera systems help some people feel more secure in their communities, while some citizens and privacy advocates are apprehensive regarding the idea of “Big Brother” watching their every move.
Developing software and other technology for facial recognition are playing even larger roles in assisting law enforcement. After the Boston Marathon bombings, law enforcement had to examine hours of surveillance video from area government systems, private security systems, and imagery from spectator smartphones. This work took nearly three days to provide grainy images of two alleged suspects that were taken from nearby business stores’ surveillance systems. Considering it took nearly eight years to unravel the London bombings that took place in 2005.
The bombing required thousands of investigators weeks to sift through the attacks footage before releasing imagery and information to the public. (Kelly, 2013) Social Media and Crowdsourcing The alleged suspects in the bombing of the Boston Marathon were quickly recognized, in thanks to the wide distribution of imagery and information throughout the entire world. Several major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, among many other internet sources were credited with the situational assistance. The two suspects’ photos were instantly disseminated across the globe with millions of citizens helping in the search.
Federal Bureau Special Agent, Richard Deslauriers was quoted saying, “Today we are enlisting the public’s help in identifying the two suspects. ” (Presutti, 2013) Suspect one’s and suspect two’s, FBI imagery, were placed on twitter and instantly tweeted and then re-tweeted millions of times. Facebook took a step and made aware its subscribers by placing an opening page message so its users could play an active citizen role in the manhunt. The Massachusetts State Police head, Tim Alben, stated “This is a very serious situation we are dealing with.
We would appreciate your cooperation,” (Presutti, 2013) The manhunt began when thousands of marathon spectators began frantically searching their cell phone images and videos making every attempt to match up the possible suspects. Even with all this manpower and mighty technology, there was still a major negative to the social media aspect. The public quickly began displaying discrepancies through focusing on innocent bystanders. Federal Bureau leadership cautioned against making any hasty and careless judgments until all information and footage was careful tabbed through.
Deslauriuers often stated, “Other photos should not be deemed credible, and they unnecessarily divert the public’s attention in the wrong direction and create undue work for vital law enforcement resources,” (Presutti, 2013) As time went along, law enforcement found clearer images and received much better physical descriptions of the alleged brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It was eventually learned that Tamerlan’s YouTube subscription contained supportive facts towards Islamic and jihadist belief systems.
Printed news articles, phone calls, and news conferences were not the final word that ended the dramatic week long search for answers and suspects. The Boston Police Department posted a twitter message that stated, “Captured! The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. ” (Presutti, 2013) Voice of America News received the news via a two-way radio call from the joyous scene in Watertown, Massachusetts. The Mayor of Boston resided in a law enforcement vehicle and used the radio to address area units stating, “We got him! Congratulations and thank you. (Presutti, 2013) This has now become the reality that these are the normal procedures for investigations.
University of Maryland professor, Sean Mussenden, said “It’s also the present, the modern media landscape in which we live. The audience is a huge active participant in these sorts of stories. ” (Presutti, 2013) Whether its surveillance systems, cellphones, or social media, the quickly resolved Boston Bombing investigation heavily relied upon modern technology. At the end of the day, the real support came from the American public and their use of social media hat ultimately discovered the brothers’ identities and solved the case in amazing fashion. (Anderson, 2013), (Markowitz, 2013)
Technology and Civil Liberties Civil liberty protesters have a growing concern with how surveillance technology could be misused in the near future. This technology provides cameras with a wide range of view as well as being connected to a single database that is capable of monitoring any individual’s movements across any particular state and country. An example of this would be an individual taking part in a political protest at multiple events and eventually being singled out.
The reality is becoming that the government is capable of knowing where we go and what we do. Privacy in our lives is not so private anymore. A much bigger possibility is once the government takes certain steps, they will be able to link all these different camera systems and apply facial recognition capability to have the capability of tracking any individual they choose at all times. Currently, most U. S. biometric databases are still separate, but with all our governments recent secrecy, who says that haven’t already taken these steps without general public knowledge.
These databases are dispersed throughout various local and federal agencies and taking the step of connecting them will take large investments money and time. The Federal Bureau of investigation is currently working towards developing and implementing its own facial recognition files and working closely with DMVs from state to state. The odds our government will be capable of utilizing private databases is relatively low, but the concerns are still evitable. Social media websites such as Facebook could become a valuable source considering is has one of the largest facial recognition databanks in the world.
This can grow into a major problem with misidentification when differentiating between potential criminals and innocent citizens. “When you weigh cameras against other security measures, they emerge as the least costly and most effective choice. In the aftermath of 9/11, we’ve turned most public spaces into fortresses — now, it’s impossible for you to get into tall buildings, airports, many museums, concerts, and even public celebrations without being subjected to pat-downs and metal detectors.
When combined with competent law enforcement, surveillance cameras are more effective, less intrusive, less sychologically draining, and much more pleasant than these alternatives. ” (Kelly, 2013) Technology is an amazing asset when utilized for measures of protection. When these systems are used outside of their intended use is when the problems begin. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ” (What our Forefather Thought, 2013), (Manjoo, 2013) Conclusion There are numerous ideas and topics we can take away from the Boston Bombing. We ultimately learned that terrorism has zero boundaries and that disasters can occur at any moment.
The response to the Boston Bombing has come to be known as a testing ground for new technology and ideas on how to incorporate technology into disaster response. An initial topic of conversation came when crowdsourcing was used to identify the alleged suspects. This idea failed miserably and resulted in innocent people becoming possible suspects. The reason this was a terrible idea was due to the nature of the situation and the charged emotions that followed the event. We learned that after emotionally charged emergencies, victims, as well as bystanders, feel the need to empower themselves through collaboration of the situation.
This was shown through the posting and tweeting of images and information which pertained to the situation. Secondly, we saw how technology can fail when the systems become overloaded and task saturated. Shortly after the initial explosives, Boston area citizens found their mobile networks down. Other forms of tracking and technology were called in for the response and recovery effort. We learned that when large scale events occur, technological systems can quickly become irrelevant for operational use if they are not configured for high amounts of data.
We must have many avenues of approach or communication. We must empower ourselves with freedom and flexibility to communicate and stay informed when situations require them. Finally, the biggest issue from the week long information sharing spree, the role that Facebook and Twitter played came under high scrutiny. Not all the information being passed was true and provided false claims and began many rumors. This issue tends to occur when dealing with different news networks and sources. We learned that the pressure to be first with the information surpassed the importance of providing accurate information.
Over the years, tragic occurrences seem to continually happen closer to our communities and homes. These terroristic events spread fear and confusion. Whether it is terrorist attacks or mass murder shootings, these types of events will be around for years to come. Ultimately, our nation has gone through numerous trials and tribulation, and we have prevented more attacks than what the public knows. This can be a harsh reality in light of the Boston Marathon Bombing, but we are winning the war on terror one day and one step at a time.
Courtney from Study Moose
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