Imagine waking up in an Orwellian world where your every move is tracked and recorded. Those living in North Albany are discovering that what once would be considered a dystopian nightmare is, in fact, a present day reality.
In September of last year cameras were installed in Nipper, the iconic 28 feet tall, four-ton dog that sits on top of the Arnoff Moving & Storage building at 991 Broadway.
Two cameras are hidden inside each eye of the dog that use Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer (FLIR) technology. In addition, the speakers attached to Nipper’s right ear are picking up audio.
Nipper can see as far down Broadway as Wolf’s 1-11, and on the other side of Broadway as far as the intersection with Mohawk Street where Albany meets Menands; they’re also able to see part of the way up Loudonville Street. The audio can only be picked up in the immediate area around Nipper’s building.
The city has been working with Digital Observers for Global Surveillance Systems (DOGSS) to monitor these cameras. Sometimes someone is watching in real time, and other times the cameras are left to record and are only checked if a compelling reason arises to do so.
The cameras were installed as part of a pilot program being tested in several cities that is based on Britain’s extensive use of surveillance cameras. The placement of the cameras comes at an interesting time, as plans are currently underway to convert the warehouse building into apartments and retail shops.
If Nipper’s building is renovated as planned the conversion could do wonders for the warehouse district of Albany. But what are current and potential residents and employees of the area going to make of the constant surveillance?
When asked if he’s anticipating a backlash about the cameras DOGSS CEO George Kerry replied, “Not so much. There are cameras in banks, in grocery store parking lots – everywhere you go. It’s not considered to be as invasive as it used to be.”
However, Kerry did admit that Nipper enthusiasts may balk at the thought of their prized Albany mascot being altered.
“We absolutely kept the foundation of the dog intact,” Harold Price, Vice President of DOGSS, said; Price was in charge of the actual installation of the cameras. “We worked with local historical society members to ensure the structural integrity of the dog was not compromised in any way.”
Nipper has been keeping watch over Broadway and North Albany since 1958, although admittedly he’s watching much more closely now.
*April Fools! You can be rest assured there are no cameras inside Nipper.