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On Israel's streets, Big Brother may soon be listening

In this Thursday, July 14, 2016 photo, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in Tel Aviv, Israel.
AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov
Abnormal sounds such as yelling, shots and explosions will trigger action by emergency services personnel

Listening devices will line Israel's streets to alert authorities to potential terror attacks and other disturbances in real time, according to a plan put forward by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. 

The listening devices -- the first batch of which are currently being installed for a trial run in Jerusalem -- will link directly to the country's emergency services dispatch center, Yedioth Ahronot newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

Abnormal sounds such as yelling, shots and explosions will trigger action by emergency services personnel with the aim of boosting police response times.

The newspaper did not cite a source for the report but appeared to have been briefed by officials in the Public Security ministry and quoted Erdan as saying that "The use of advanced technologies can save lives. My vision is to inherit the public compounds in the country with cameras and sensors that will greatly enhance the personal security of citizens and prevent violence."

The report noted that while existing security cameras are useful tools for investigators to decipher events after they occur, the mooted sensors will direct cameras in the area to the source of suspicious noises so events can be responded to almost instantaneously, even in the absence of a call from a member of the public. 

The government has reportedly been handed advice that the devices will not be legally problematic because they will supposedly detect only loud sounds rather than pick up conversations in the street or other low-level noise. 

According to the paper, each unit will cost approximately 100,000 shekels (around $28,000). 

After the first batch is installed in Jerusalem, Erdan reportedly wants to install further across parks and public spaces around Israel. 

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