Big Brother hasn't yet arrived in Baltimore, but he's knocking on the door. There are more than 450 surveillance cameras perched around the city - high on street corner poles, spotting cars crossing the Key Bridge from an Inner Harbor rooftop, recording comings and goings in subway and light rail stations, monitoring every movement in dozens of other locations, both discreet and highly visible.
While the cameras collect a dizzying montage of the city in motion, they have been of limited use in solving crimes and have been only moderately helpful in deterring illegal conduct, security experts agree. The oldest cameras, including the ones with the flashing blue lights, are being replaced with more sophisticated, remotely monitored closed-circuit units. Police hope the newer cameras, paid for with federal Homeland Security grants, confiscated drug money and state and city funds, will prove a better deterrent and be more useful in investigations.