We live in a constant threat of attack from solo gun men to suicidal bombers. In order to live safer, we install home security cameras in and out of our house. Then there comes another issue: what about in public? Should surveillance cameras be placed in public places? What are the good and bad of public video surveillance?
According to the debate of whether surveillance cameras should be put in public areas, like schools, stores, libraries, airports, bars and clubs, some individuals feel more secure with the cameras, while other citizens and privacy advocates feel nervous about the idea of someone watching them every time they are out in public. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using security cameras in public places.
Part 1: Pros of Surveillance Cameras in Public Places
Why are surveillance cameras good for installing in public? Here list several advantages of why we need surveillance cameras in public places.
Pro 1. Public Security Cameras Improve Public Safety
When we install a home security camera, we gain increased house safety. Just like that, the main benefit of surveillance cameras in public spaces is also the increase of public safety. Public surveillance cameras help you stay safe while clubbing, shopping, and travelling. Cameras can be used as a way to keep an eye out for any crimes that are being committed. Panoramic fisheye security cameras put in public spaces, like a crossroad, a retail store, parking lots, museums, concert halls, do an excellent job in providing 360° seamless surveillance solutions. Additionally, crimes can be deterred before they even begin in some cases. If a suspicious individual or individuals or items are seen in an area, the appropriate authorities can be contacted to move into the area before any damage is done or any crime is committed. Additionally, any people in the area can be cleared as a precaution. Since public safety is guaranteed, people’s fear of crime can also be reduced, while their sense of security is created.
Pro 2. Surveillance Cameras in Public Areas Reduce Crime Rate
Some authorities place cameras in Walmart and other shops, hoping that the cameras will help prevent crimes from being committed. If an individual knows that there is a surveillance camera in a certain area, they may be less willing to commit a crime near the location for the fear of being caught. Statistics show that camera surveillance does reduce crime. According to it, crime incidents in Humboldt Park dropped 20% after the cameras were put in public.
Pro 3. Public Video Surveillance Helps Catch Criminals
If a crime is committed in an area where a surveillance camera has been set up, the chances of catching the criminal are much higher. Facial recognition software has improved greatly over the years, which means that if a person is caught on camera committing a crime, the chances of them being caught is much higher. Posters can be created and the images can be aired on network television to help spread the word about the criminal. Without the footage from the CCTV camera, it can be extremely difficult to gain a quality description of the person who committed the crime, even if there were eye witnesses. The bombings at Boston Marathon is a good example. It only took the FBI three days to release blurry shots of the two suspects, taken by a surveillance camera installed in a department store.
Pro 4. Video Cameras in Public Locations Provide Evidence and Gather Clues
Any footage that is on a surveillance camera that captures a crime being committed can be used in a court of law as evidence against the accused. In some cases, if there were no footage there would be little or no evidence to convict the person of the crime and the individual may go free. Those night vision security cameras features good and long range of night vision, so that robbers can be recognized even if they commit a crime in dark areas. Additionally, in some cases the video surveillance footage can also help prove someone’s innocence if they have been accused of a crime that they did not commit.
Pro 5. Public Video Surveillance Improves Convenience for Everyday Life
There are also some cities that have placed cameras on stop lights as a way to help prevent people from speeding or from going through a red light. And also, relevant authorities can monitor road conditions with surveillance cameras. So they can make real-time traffic reports, helping people choose the right time and road when going out.
Part 2: Cons of Security Cameras in Public Places
While there are advantages of public surveillance cameras systems, there are disadvantages. What’s wrong with public video surveillance? Here are some bad points of CCTV cameras in public places.
Con 1. Security Cameras in Public Violate Privacy Rights
In public surveillance cameras good or bad debate, the first argument against video surveillance in public is the invasion of privacy. When you are walking down the street, driving in your car, or hanging out with boyfriends and girlfriends, you will be monitored with cameras placed in public. This creates a complete picture of the private life of an individual. We all have private life, which doesn’t want others or the government to know.
Con 2. Surveillance Systems are Easily Abuse
Some essays discussing surveillance cameras in public places show that the cameras may be abused. One example of how a camera may be misused is that, information gathered by law enforcement can be used as a form of blackmail.
Another form of abuse is voyeurism. Spying on women using surveillance cameras is quite common in areas where these cameras have been set up. This can become quite an issue that needs to be dealt with.
Overall, the simple lack of control or limits on the camera use is one of the biggest problems. Until now, there is not a good check-and-balance system, in order to prevent abuses from occurring.
Con 3. Effectiveness of a Public Security Camera is Doubted
Another controversy of the use of surveillance cameras in public places is that its effectiveness has not been proven. While there has been a push for more video surveillance equipment to be placed in public places because of the threat of terrorist attacks, it is quite clear that a suicidal bomber is not going to be deterred by the fact that there is a camera in place.
Con 4. Public Camera Surveillance is Expensive
One of the arguments against the widely use of surveillance cameras is that it costs big money. Since it is not effective enough to deter crimes and theft, why would we spend too much money in it, which not only fails to make us safer, but also violates our personal rights?
Part 3: Conclusion of Installing Public Surveillance Cameras
In today’s world surveillance cameras can be extremely helpful. After the Orlando nightclub shooting, how to stay safe in public places, say, a night club, has been raising more concerns. Needless to say, placing cameras in strategic areas throughout a city can help ensure public safety, protect property, and prevent crimes. But on the other hand, there are always crimes which are not deterred by surveillance cameras. And the abuse of public video cameras would violate privacy and personal rights. Therefore, how to balance public safety and personal privacy needs to be considered further.
As far as I am concerned, advantages of installing public surveillance cameras outweigh the disadvantages greatly. According to FBI, there were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes 8,277,829 property crimes reported in 2014, and the crime rate has been rising in recent years. I can’t imagine how bad the situation would be if there were no public security cameras. There is no much about the concern of privacy violation when you behave yourself in public places. Security in public places should always be put on the top of priority.If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. What do you think? Feel free to share your ideas by leaving a comment below!
Amanda Li, a free writer who has deep love in life, firmly believes sharing is real happiness. You can follow her to get more practical, inspiring family and life tips.
Surveillance cameras are used all over the world in public and semi-public areas for a range of reasons. About three-quarters of small businesses record who comes into their location on CCTV. CCTV stands for closed-circuit television. There are systems that recognize license plates on moving vehicles and systems that monitor traffic flow and catch people violating traffic laws. Examples of relevant public places that CCTVs are used include: Public parks, pedestrianized streets in city centers, outdoor public parking areas, residential neighborhood streets, public transport interchanges and areas outside public facilities such as sports arenas.
1. Surveillance is the monitoring of the behaviour, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting them. The word surveillance comes from a French phrase for “watching over” (“sur” means “from above” and “veiller” means “to watch”).
2. The use of surveillance cameras in public areas is a very controversial issue. There are many arguments for and against the issue. Some of the arguments in favour of the use of surveillance cameras are: they are very useful to governments and law enforcement to maintain social control, recognize and monitor threats, and prevent/investigate criminal activity. Governments often initially claim that cameras are meant to be used for traffic control, but many of them end up using them for general surveillance. Some supporters of surveillance systems believe that these tools protect society from terrorists and criminals. Other supporters simply believe that there is nothing that can be done about it, and that people must become accustomed to having no privacy. As Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”
3. Like most things, there is always a in favour, neutral and against opinion from people. I will start off with some facts that are in favour of using CCTV’s in public areas. A range of crimes have been solved by the seemingly ever-present security videos maintained by private companies or citizens. Investigators have been able to quickly apprehend suspects by obtaining the video, smartly turning private cameras into effective police resources. A study that took place in 2009 stated that In 90 murder cases over a one year period, CCTV was used in 86 investigations.
An example of when a surveillance camera solved a crime was 21st January 2013. Jason Smith was seen on surveillance footage at nearby stores and a hospital that captured the suspect entering the doctor’s home and later getting into his truck. He then confessed to killing Melissa Ketunuti, a pediatrician, in her home in Philadelphia.
4. One of the most infamous cases is that of Richard Whelan, who was stabbed to death on a bus in 2005 as he attempted to defend his girlfriend. The horrific 33-second attack was all caught on camera. Anthony Joseph, a paranoid schizophrenic, baited the victim by throwing chips at his girlfriend and the killer grinned at a CCTV camera as he left the bus.
5. There is not much research about those who have a neutral opinion on this topic. Although, there was a poll taken in 2001 showed that 15% of people responded that both clearing up crime and protecting personal privacy are both equally important. This poll was presented in the newspaper “Aftenposten” in an article titled “Two out of three accept video surveillance”. In the article, Anne Nyeggen from the Data Protection Agency is quoted as commenting that “it seems that people don’t care as long as the surveillance is ‘fighting crime’.”
6. While CCTV systems can prove to be a deterrent to crime and help in evidence gathering, these cameras aren’t always too popular with members of the public.
7. The various disadvantages associated with CCTV surveillance have prompted some organisations and political parties to criticise their use.
8. There are a quite a few campaigns, political parties and opinions against surveillance cameras. A couple of organisations are called “NO CCTV – campaigning against camera surveillance in the UK and beyond” and “Big Brother in your school”. Just because crime was reduced in an area with a dominant camera presence, that doesn’t mean that the crime has been prevented. In some cases, it has been shown to raise crime rates in areas a few blocks away where there are no cameras.
9. The main reason people are against CCTV’s is privacy. They constantly monitor the activities of people working and sometimes living. This fact alone upsets people, since many of us simply don’t like our privacy being invaded, regardless of the reason why the CCTV equipment is there. On rare occasions they could be inaccurate, because the technology isn’t perfect. The camera might miss details; for example, a concealed weapon which isn’t immediately visible on a person might not show up on CCTV footage. The expense of CCTVs is another reason some people are against it. They aren’t cheap to install, and if a property manager or owner is considering providing surveillance equipment, he’s looking at quite a large bill. Once bought, CCTV cameras must also be installed correctly by experts and monitored regularly, all of which adds up. This total cost can stretch the budget of institutions such as schools. Most CCTV cameras are installed out of the reach of the public, but sometimes a camera can still get damaged by someone going out of their way to damage it. CCTV equipment is sensitive to knocks and can malfunction if interfered with. In the interval between the damage occurring and the camera being replaced, activities may not be recorded by the affected camera.10
Personally, I think the current laws and surveillance camera’s they have in place are fine and do not bother me at all. After reading and researching the opinions against surveillance camera’s I definitely know I am in favour of them. I don’t feel like my privacy is being invaded there is a camera recording me, because I know it’s for a good purpose and to help to protect the environment and the public including myself. Ethically, I think surveillance camera’s need to continue being used like they are now and I would not trust being in some places without them.