CCTV the Incursion of Technology essay

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these little slivers of plastic provide commerce at the swipe of a wrist, but every time that card is swiped, the time, date, location, value, and often the items of a purchase are recorded several times over, by banks, credit card companies, superstores, fashion chains, transport industries, and many other points on the economic tree (Trango, n.d.). These details, over time, can and are used to create a 'picture' of you and your buying habits; Can you be trusted to pay back a loan? What times do you usually come into a store? Do you take public transport because you can or because its cheaper? What bra size are you? All of these details can be correlated over time, and can often then be sold onto third parties for marketing purposes, and, depending on where you are, that information can all be sold including your name and address. (The EU provides protection against such trades, while the U.S.A. currently does not).

This all comes back to the issue of CCTV; at this point, 'the powers that be' have your name and buying habits (from your credit card), your income and average expenditure (from your tax details), your photograph (hopefully from your passport or drivers licence, but more and more from the likes of Facebook and other online social sites), and can tie all that information together with 24/7 live video surveillance across a nation to completely monitor every action and interaction between citizens or subjects (Clifford, 2007).

Law Enforcement and Military Use:

The aspect of CCTV use in popular media that is most recognised and infamous, are the so called 'dash-cams', installed in police and federal vehicles. These cameras, mounted forward facing on dashboards, with embedded information such as the vehicles current speed, and the speed of a suspect vehicle being pursued as well as timecoded information, have been essential pieces of evidence gathering equipment both in criminal cases, and in instances of police brutality.

This proliferation of recording devices now extends to firearms and tasers; now commonly distributed to law enforcement officers with breach mounted camera's that are becoming more and more essential in assessing the legality of police actions and in evidence gathering (Clifford, 2007). Further, the growth of centralized municipal CCTV systems with action-recognition software can provide instant notifications of disturbances such as shootings, brawls, etc. directly to local officers, greatly reducing response times by essentially short circuiting the time it takes for someone on the street to recognise a crime and to call 911 (Post, 2002).

In terms of military applications, one of the most recent developments in urban warfare is the use of robotic scouts; essentially armored remote control cars with cameras (Lewis, 2010). These can maneuver around an environment to assess any dangers before placing any personell in the line of fire. Additionally, the proliferation of Unmanned Vehicles in general in both military and law enforcement settings, has taken countless lives out of danger (Lewis, 2010). A perfect example of this is the use of bomb disposal robots both at home and abroad in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq; unsecured roadways are scouted by specialised robots that can detect and safely detonate roadside IED (Improvised Explosive Devices), and can do so alot faster and safer than human bomb disposal experts (Nichols, 2010).

Indeed, the concept of unmanned remote control military operations is becoming more and more of a reality, with UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) such as the recently combat-deployed Predator currently engaged in reconnaissance and in-theatre surveillence in real time to troops on the ground, providing advanced intelligence, allowing for safer and more effective strategic incursions.

Civilian Use:

Many businesses and homes, especially family homes, use external and internal CCTV systems to provide a real sense of safety and peace of mind; As well as lowering the costs of insurance, having a CCTV camera over ones porch can provide 'visitor screening' for the elderly and vulnerable, as well as some more advanced systems allowing 'checking in' on a home from a remote location (Delaney, 2009).

Extending beyond static CCTV systems, many mobile cellular telephones today have built in cameras that often have video recording capabilities (Schenkel, 2009). While these are usually utilised for the production of "Cute Kitten" YouTube videos, or sending a family member a clip of "Baby's first steps," personal recording devices are now being used to protect Civil liberties, such as the cases of police brutality recorded at NYC's Critical Mass events (2006-present), where video evidence shows NYPD officers using unnecessary force against peaceful protestors (Davenport, 2007). While the use of video garnered a great deal of public and media attention, the officers involved were only placed on 'modified assignment'.

Terrorist Events that CCTV was helpful:

The use of CCTV in surveillance has a number of potential benefits in the observation and apprehension of individuals intent on anti-scoial activities. Instances such as the those high profile events discussed in this paper have acted as proving grounds for the controversial technology (Trango, n.d.). The real test of CCTV effectiveness though will come in future events. Now that the efficacy and general means by which CCTV is utilized are widely known and have been the subject of much public debate the question becomes not whether it is effective, but whether it will still be effective in the face of so much publicity. Cities across the country, across the world even, are spending literally millions of dollars per annum in updating and installing more CCTV camera systems (Lewis, 2010). Though cities like London whose network is the largest in the world report a significant decrease in crime, the initial deterrent effect will wear off eventually. Also, methods of avoiding the cameras or disguising your appearance, even disrupting the camera itself are being developed as quickly as cameras are being installed (Schenkel, 2009). In this race to preparedness and safety, these multimillion dollar systems are simply the most recent hurdle criminals are now focusing on clearing effectively in the pursuit of their criminal endeavors.

The shift of formerly exclusively combat devices such as unmanned reconnaissance drones and covert cameras with the ability to recognize a single face in a crowd are moving from war zones into urban areas (Lewis, 2010). This is perhaps the most apparent effect of terrorism and CCTV's the general public is likely to experience. In the war on terror, both abroad and at home the need for immediate and accurate information is more urgent now than it ever was before. Though the car bomb in Times Square was clearly the work of an amateur, it is not outside the realm of possibility that that car bomb could have done effectively the same thing to Times Square and the literally thousands of tourists and residents contained therein that individuals with similar aspirations did to trains in London and Madrid.

Though ultimately there is little that can actually be lawfully done to preemptively stop such terrorist attacks as those discussed above, the simple fact of having a system in which individuals choosing to break the law can be observed early and observed thoroughly will be extremely beneficial (Trango, n.d.). It is important though that the very system implemented to protect citizens does not ultimately grow to suppress them. It is essential that stringent reporting and control protocols are in place to ensure that the unparalleled power access to such a system grants an organization is not abused (Delaney, 2009).

London Train Bombing " Use of CCTV:

There are approximately 500,000 CCTV cameras in use in London (Lewis, 2010). 6,000 of those cameras are located in the underground mass transit system. Though that number allowed for the identification of the London bombers within four days of the event, 2,000 more cameras still are proposed to be added to the underground system (Trango, n.d.). These cameras allow monitors to observe customers on the platforms and in other terminal areas.

Though the initial July bombings were not able to be prevented through the use of CCTV footage, subsequent attempts at detonating explosives on the tube trains were caught much faster than they would have been had CCTV not been implemented in mass transit security protocol. While the cameras serve ass a definite deterrent resulting in universal decreases in crime rate (Nieto, 1997). The real value of CCTV in these instances is the ability to link potential co-conspirators and even potential leaders or organizers for these groups of individuals. It is also possible once an identification has been made to utilize other CCTVs to determine the starting point of the terrorists progress locating potential groups imply by tracking a single member back to their point of origin within the city ( Smith, 2005). This system is shockingly reminiscent of the big brother scenario which citizens feared, however that concern must be weighed against the potential for…[continue]

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