Zappala's Security Cameras Spark Cybersecurity Concerns

Aug 13, 2019

On today’s program: Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has a vast surveillance camera system with the ability to recognize license plates, faces and more; drug testing strips could help prevent overdose deaths, but they're illegal in Pennsylvania; a UPMC symposium centers on transgender and non-binary health care needs; a tour of World War II aircraft comes to Butler; and a preview of Trump’s visit to Shell’s new Beaver County ethane cracker.

DA’s camera network spurs privacy concerns
(0:00 – 12:28)

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office has assembled a network of cameras that privacy advocates say could be used to track people’s movements, store private data or be breached by nefarious foreign actors.

These concerns aren't unique to Zappala's network, says Mike Wereschagin, who reported this story for The Caucus, but their vulnerability is. Wereschagin's investigation reveals the cameras were purchased from Chinese a manufacturer that the U.S. government calls a national security threat. The data is monitored by an outside, private company that has not been disclosed, and the cameras have facial recognition capabilities that at least one official has suggested isn't being used, but could be soon.

Zappala declined to be interviewed for The Caucus' story.

Fentanyl test strips are illegal, but could save lives
(14:03 – 17:45)

Fentanyl is a potent and potentially fatal opioid often mixed with other drugs. Test strips can help determine the presence of fentanyl, but because the strips are classified as “drug paraphernalia,” they are illegal in Pennsylvania. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports that when people know that a drug contains fentanyl, they are more likely to use smaller amounts, to use it with someone else nearby, or to make sure that naloxone -- commonly known as Narcan, a drug that can revive someone experiencing an overdose, is close at hand.

Conference focuses on health care for transgender and non-binary patients
(17:48 – 21:37)

LGBT patients still face barriers to medical treatment, according to speakers at “Becoming a Trans Knowledgeable Provider,” a UPMC conference held earlier this week. The Confluence’s Megan Harris spoke to 90.5 WESA’s Kathleen Davis about how health care providers can better accommodate and treat trans patients.

World War II aircraft land in Butler
(21:40 – 31:37)

Rare World War II aircraft will arrive in Butler this week as part of Wings of Freedom, a nationwide tour and “interactive flying memorial” for World War II veterans. The B-17, also known as the Flying Fortress, will be on display, along with other bomber and fighter aircraft, all restored to their original condition. Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the Collings Foundation, the organization that tours the aircraft, says stepping onto one of the restored planes is “like walking into a time machine.”

The Wings of Freedom tour will be at Butler Regional Airport from Thursday to Sunday. Find more information here.

Trump makes a stop in Western PA
(31:41 – 38:53)

President Trump is visiting Beaver County today to tour Shell’s new ethane cracker plant and tout his economic agenda. The Allegheny Front and StateImpact Pennsylvania's Reid Frazier reports demonstrators plan to protest the regulatory rollback and local impacts of the Shell plant, which is scheduled to open around 2020.

90.5 WESA's Tom Hurley, Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.