A PS system is defined as a system “designed to maintain a constant watch over a target of interest.” Drones used in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are an example of a PS system. The article draws attention to the technological advances in areas of imagery, digital data collection and storage of such large amounts of data. It describes the combination as a “TiVo-like” system with the “capability to replay long periods of recorded social behavior.” And it is this combination that has implications for national security.
This “TiVo-like” system
would allow for very-high-quality video to be stored for long periods of time. Should an event such as a terrorist attack take place, the archival imagery of the public space could be reviewed to determine details of high consequence, such as the moment a bomb was placed or a terrorist casing the targeted area. With sufficiently high-resolution imagery, a law enforcement or intelligence user could then zoom in on an individual face in a heavily populated urban environment, thus identifying the attacker.
The authors also note that such a system also has more subtle national security implications. Not only can such a system be employed to actively identify and hunt potential terrorist, it can also dramatically increase the “knowledge of an adversary’s behavior,” allowing for “a better approximation of that adversary’s incentive structure, in turn offering opportunities to effect policies that alter those incentives.”