Is the computer/surveillance stuff in Die Hard 4 & Bourne Ultimatum possible in 2007?

Both of these films basically show that you can track and research John Doe from one word said on one phone call out of billions, you can instantly see the full background of anyone captured on any camera in the world, get floor plans of any building anywhere, cross reference people with great-uncles who died in the Korean War with anyone whose ever had a gas bill for $32.44, and on and on. Is this possible, and if so, as easily depicted, by anyone anywhere in 2007?

Not even close to possible.

First off, the information, if it even exists (which is probably doesn’t) most liekly isn’t computerized, and if it, is not in an online database, and if it is, is not organized in a useful or searchable fashion, and if it is, is closed to the public, and if open to the public, would require far, far, far longer to actually get in and access they could ever have time for.

such movie scenarios assume that phone ownership and location records are (i) complete and (ii) accurate. From working for the phone company I know this not to be the case. I’ve frequently had to puzzle over “Is this still working or not, and if so, who owns it?”

No, they completely ignore the concept of ‘bandwidth’.

smiling bandit There are whole industries both public and private dedicated to parsing that data more effectively.

In Bourne, they were able to cross reference in seconds everyone in the world who made a phone call into Turin that day, along with everyone of those people who had turned off their phone at some point that day, and got three hits :rolleyes:

Not even close. My firm builds & sells tools to help governments try to do things like that and at least at the levels below some Federal secret agency we’ve never heard of it’s a total non-starter today.

Some cities do have online floor plans of some of the major buildings. Many cities have very good maps, down to knowing the location of each manhole cover & the ability to overlay cable tv lines, water supply, gas supply, lot ownership, etc. onto a coherent accurate map.

Some have surveilance cameras at key points.

But NOBODY shares anything with anybody else at their level.

A worker from Smallville could no more get access to that kind of internal data from nearby Metropolis than you could. And if Gotham County contains both cities, the cities will not, in general, share anything with the county. Nor vice versa.

And they really, really, won’t let the Feds have anything.

And forget about real time. A city agency might be able to access call records from telcos in the local area. But only after a few days and a few court orders.

I’ve seen some real Star Wars command centers around the US, and the striking thing about most of them is they really, really know what’s going on inside their own agency, and they relay on phone calls & a TV tuned to CNN for everything else.

I’m pretty sure they were cross referencing the information against everyone in their office/department, rather than everyone in the world.

There’s also the problem of different types of software for different organizations.
Just think of the differences between searching HTML web pages and PDF format documents.

I work with municipal governments on engineering projects. Some cities have great GIS (geographical info. system) software. (Very,very detailed info, with graphic programs that map the city showing every street light and what type of bulb it uses, every water line with what kind of pipe, and even listing the Latin names for the each tree in the public parks.) Each labelled detail is tied to a specific graphic symbol on the map.

But all this info is in a special format used only by the special GIS software.
It is totally unreadable by, say, Microsoft’s Excell or Access.

So it’s hard to imagine the city engineering department linking its data base to, say, the phone company’s data base of calls made and accounts paid.

Irrelevant. They may be deciated to doing so, but unless you can access sopme magic online database of everyone whose bought insulin and cross reference that with cheeto’s purchases from 7-11’s within 3 blocks and then cross that with a list of known and unknown aliases of random people pulled out of the phonebook, it ain’t gonna happen.

I was much happier with Bourne than I was with DH4. With Bourne, I didn’t see anything that was instant, and if things didn’t go the way they’d expected, they had to wait (only hours, but still) to get more info.

The deal with analyzing phone calls is within the proposed abilities of the existing Echelon Project, and I didn’t find the phone thing Wee Bairn mentions that outrageous, since they were searching a list of agency cell-phones only, which would be reasonable to have comprehensive information regarding.

Oh yeah, and DH4 was far far over the top in every single regard. Even without the semi/airplane deal, non-hackable things were being hacked in 10 seconds, devices incapable of doing X were doing X and Y and Z… it was obvious to anyone with the skills to use an ATM that it was outrageous. As a programmer, I spent most of the movie going :rolleyes: . I’ll bet a few network engineers had to be hospitalized.

A show that deals with what I believe is a current capability is MI-5 (or Spooks for the UK’ers). All those closed-circuit cameras scattered around greater London seem to be accessible from certain gov’t and police computers.

Anybody got the Straight Dope?

One I thought was especially dubious was in Die Hard 4, when the bad guy who had control of the east coast power grid detected a breach attempt, and in seconds was looking at and talking to the Kevin Smith character…