Good News, There’s a FEMA Emergency Operations Semi Here for Made in America. And ALPR.

A Weekend Techlaration post with Co-Editor Dustin Slaughter

The Declaration editors decided to walk around the Made in America grounds to see what kind of surveillance and emergency operations infrastructure they have in place just for the festival.

While we both agreed that the security theater was not terribly over-the-top when it came to electronic scenery, some technology in use at the concert merits the public’s awareness.

And: along with the expected SWAT and Major Incident Response Vehicles (and some pretty rad Bomb Disposal Unit motorcycles), something rather large and conspicuous has earned a mention: a tractor-trailer for the Pennsylvania FEMA National Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.

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A truck parked beneath the Art Museum Saturday afternoon. Well, its door. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

We generally thought this was strange. We shot a quick video so you could see.  We also felt it was unwise for the operator of the official SUV parked behind the trailer to leave the Tactical Operations Plan for the event on both his back seat and in his cup-holder, in plain view. We won’t post the pictures but trust us.

Some other surveillance tech in use and worth note: portable IP cameras mounted to light posts and connected via a wireless mesh network; the ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter 900, an Automatic License Plate Reader (parked at Kelly Drive, scanning all vehicles that passed).

The ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter 900 on a Philadelphia Police Cruiser parked at Kelly Drive Saturday afternoon. Photos by Kenneth Lipp

The ELSAG Mobile Plate Hunter 900 on a Philadelphia Police Cruiser parked at Kelly Drive Saturday afternoon. Photos by Kenneth Lipp

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Wireless IP cameras like these allow police to set up ad-hoc surveillance networks without a need for any existing infrastructure. You can see the cameras and routers are recently attached with pipe strap. Photos by Kenneth Lipp.

Wireless IP cameras like these allow police to set up ad-hoc surveillance networks without a need for any existing infrastructure. You can see the cameras and routers are recently attached with pipe strap. Photos by Kenneth Lipp.

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There’s also this Homeland Security Unit that includes a tower with a helicopter up-link, it has a mobile version with a tablet-like interface (an officer was nice enough to show us).

The tower on the right houses an up-link device that allows this mobile command center to coordinate ground operations with a helicopter overhead. Photo by Kenneth Lipp.

The tower on the right houses an up-link device that allows this mobile command center to coordinate ground operations with a helicopter overhead. Photo by Kenneth Lipp.

You have to admit these bikes are sick.

Bomb squads need Bat-Bikes in case a defusing goes awry and they have something they need to GTFO. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Bomb squads need Bat-Bikes in case a defusing goes awry and they have something they need to GTFO. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

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About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

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