Eyes (Not Ears) on the Street (via Gizmodo)

Meet the "Angels of Silence." Adam Clark Estes reports on a project in Oaxaca, Mexico, employing the deaf to observe surveillance footage. It's especially interesting because surveillance of image and sound are legislated differently, meaning the need for experienced "silent observation" is hard-coded into the law.


Estes directs readers to additional coverage at theatlanticcities.com ("The video footage is silent, and deaf monitors are both capable of reading lips and less easily distracted than officers who can hear by other things happening in the command center") and theglobeandmail.com ("Members of the newest police force in the colonial city of Oaxaca can’t hear or speak"). Here's earlier reporting from this time last year: infosurhoy.com.

An Army of the Deaf Watches Surveillance Cameras in Mexico

Security camera footage makes some pretty boring TV. There's no sound, so you don't know what people are saying, and it's tough to read body language out of context. But that's exactly what makes deaf people the perfect workforce for interpreting the footage.


In Oaxaca, Mexico, they're called "Angels of Silence." The capital city in the eponymous state is now in the second year of a program that employs 20 deaf police officers to monitor 230 surveillance cameras set up around town. Because they can read lips, the deaf officers are better able to understand conversations happening on camera, and their heightened visual awareness means they can spot trouble brewing on the screen more quickly. So far, they've helped assisted in countless confrontations and traffic accidents, and they've even helped solve one murder case.

There's an added bonus to the deaf officer program. Most of those currently working on the force were unemployed before and had a hard time finding a job due to their disability. In fact, the city plans to expand the program in the near future as they simultaneously boost the number of cameras to 400. The center where the officers are based is also hooked into Oaxaca's State Emergency Center, which shares data across several government agencies.


The head of the city's Public Safety Department recently told the Associated Press that they'd been contacted by officials from the United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates had contacted the city wanting to learn more about the program. And why wouldn't they? It makes perfect sense, and everybody wins. Except the criminals, of course. [AP via The Atlantic Cities]

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