Large, unmanned airships that can stay afloat for a day at a time may be the future of mass surveillance. The Eos, designed by Avalon Airships, is touted as a possible law enforcement tool to keep tabs on the civilians. The airship’s capabilities and uses include:
- Multiple, high resolution camera arrays
- Silent operation with remote piloting
- High operating altitudes
- Deployable, remotely operated drone
- 300 mile range
- 24-hour continuous use
Writing on the company’s website says the airship, which is currently only a concept design, would be powered by electric motors charged in a dock, powered by attached solar panels and wind turbines. The airship would land on water.
The city of Baltimore, Maryland has already used mass, persistence aerial surveillance using Cessna planes, as was revealed in a 2016 Bloomberg article. From the article:
a small Cessna airplane equipped with a sophisticated array of cameras was circling Baltimore at roughly the same altitude as the massing clouds. The plane’s wide-angle cameras captured an area of roughly 30 square miles and continuously transmitted real-time images to analysts on the ground. The footage from the plane was instantly archived and stored on massive hard drives, allowing analysts to review it weeks later if necessary.
Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department had been using the plane to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings. The Cessna sometimes flew above the city for as many as 10 hours a day, and the public had no idea it was there.
An unmanned airship such as the Eos may provide a lower cost alternative for aerial surveillance. The concept of mass, persistent aerial surveillance was developed during the Iraq War, and is yet another example of military tactics adapted for use on the American population.