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Mountaintops provide a naturally advantageous point from which to conduct surveillance and communication activities. The utility of high ground for military reconnaissance has been recognized since antiquity, and communication networks using mountaintops or watchtowers were developed in many European and Asian civilizations in response to military and political exigencies. Additionally, mountains are important sites for environmental surveillance and security assurance. Extensive networks of fire lookout towers were constructed across North America and Europe in the 20th century and remain in use, though to a lesser extent than in previous decades. Today, control of forest fires and volcanic mountains is increasingly accomplished through state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. This entry examines the origins of mountain surveillance and many of its early uses before discussing the ways in ...

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