The StingRay tracker is an example of one of these tools used to monitor cell phone usage in the United States and the United Kingdom. Originally developed for counterterrorism purposes by the military, they work by broadcasting powerful signals that cause nearby cell phones to transmit their IMSI number, just as they would to normal cell phone towers. Once the phone is connected to the device, there is no way for the user to know that they are being tracked. The operator of the stingray is able to extract information such as location, phone calls, and text messages, but it is widely believed that the capabilities of the StingRay extend much further. A lot of controversy surrounds the StingRay because of its powerful capabilities and the secrecy that surrounds it.
In the United Kingdom, the vast majority of video surveillance cameras are not operated by government bodies, but by private individuals or companies, especially to monitor the interiors of shops and businesses. According to 2011 Freedom of Information Act requests, the total number of local government operated CCTV cameras was around 52,000 over the entirety of the UK. The prevalence of video surveillance in the UK is often overstated due to unreliable estimates being requoted; for example one report in 2002 extrapolated from a very small sample to estimate the number of cameras in the UK at 4.2 million (of which 500,000 were in Greater London). More reliable estimates put the number of private and local government operated cameras in the United Kingdom at around 1.85 million in 2011.
Programs such as the Heterogeneous Aerial Reconnaissance Team program developed by DARPA have automated much of the aerial surveillance process. They have developed systems consisting of large teams drone planes that pilot themselves, automatically decide who is "suspicious" and how to go about monitoring them, coordinate their activities with other drones nearby, and notify human operators if something suspicious is occurring. This greatly increases the amount of area that can be continuously monitored, while reducing the number of human operators required. Thus a swarm of automated, self-directing drones can automatically patrol a city and track suspicious individuals, reporting their activities back to a centralized monitoring station.In addition, researchers also investigate possibilities of autonomous surveillance by large groups of micro aerial vehicles stabilized by decentralized bio-inspired swarming rules. 2b1af7f3a8