June 23, 2003
Most Surveillance Cameras In NYC Privately Owned

Most video surveillance cameras in New York City are privately owned.

The use of surveillance cameras erupted into a major issue in 1998 when the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) mapped the city and concluded that there were 2,400 surveillance cameras in Manhattan alone, a number that Mr. Brown believes has tripled.

Former NYCLU head Norman Siegel said that 89 percent of the cameras were privately owned and 11 percent publicly owned.

There is an important implication of this report: efforts to restrict the use of surveillance cameras by governments will have little effect upon the rate of growth of the use of surveillance cameras in general, This pattern of many times more privately than publicly owned security cameras probably holds throughout the United States and likely in a number of other countries as well. One factor that may make international comparisons difficult is differing patterns of public versus private ownership of port facilities, airports, bus and train stations, and other facilities where cameras could be used for security purposes.

As it now stands there does not appear to be substantial public opposition to government operation of surveillance cameras. Therefore my guess is that even government operation of surveillance cameras will continue to expand quite rapidly.

Some private organizations that operate surveillance cameras are not conventional commercial interests. For instance, the apparently private foundation Surf Life Saving Queensland wants to install surveillance cameras to prevent drownings.

CIVIL libertarians and naturalists have vowed to fight plans to install surveillance cameras at a Sunshine Coast nudist beach.

There is some irony in the notion that nudists on a public beach do not want to have their privacy invaded.

From a government police agency's perspective the proliferation of private security cameras makes their jobs easier. If privately owned and operated cameras are positioned to record public approaches to privately owned establishments and then a crime is committed in an area the private cameras will often be useful in police investigations. This form of usefulness is becoming increasingly common as private video surveillance cameras proliferate. To take just one recent example, police in Melbourne Australia are looking thru footage from a hotel's video footage even though the murder case they are investigating didn't happen in the hotel whose camera might have caught the crime.

As Moran's family began planning his funeral, police were examining footage from a surveillance camera on a hotel near the murder scene at North Essendon.

As video surveillance systems fall in price and increase in capabilities their use will grow by orders of magnitude. We may reach a point where most stores, hotels, bus stations, airports, and other public places operate multiple cameras. The cost of data storage capacity will fall so far and become so miniaturized that much more of the images recorded by surveillance cameras will be recorded and retained for longer periods of time.

What is really going to drive the push toward pervasive monitoring by video cameras is the spread of WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) internet access networks. The island nation of Niue has the first nationwide WiFi network.

ALOFI, Niue, The South Pacific -- The Internet Users Society – Niue (IUS-N), today announced that it has launched the world’s first free nation-wide WiFi Internet access service on the Polynesian island-nation of Niue. This new free wireless service which can be accessed by all Niue residents, tourists, government offices and business travelers, is being provided at no cost to the public or local government.

The number of areas covered by WiFi networks looks set to grow rapidly.

Today, IDC predicts that by 2006, 3 billion cell phones will be in use, and 50 percent of Internet users will be mobile. Gartner Dataquest estimates that by 2007, nearly 120,000 Wi-Fi hotspots will exist worldwide, with Asia accounting for about a third of these.

Using WiFi-enabled webcams and cellphone cameras an increasing number of people are going to send still images and motion video pictures of wherever they are to wherever they want to send them.Video surveillance is no longer going to be the done mainly by police, public transportation agencies, and private businesses. The general public is going to be in on it. The depiction of the surveillance society of David Brin's Earth science fiction novel is looking more prophetic every day.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 June 23 06:51 PM  Surveillance Cameras


Comments
Patrick said at June 24, 2003 8:23 PM:

I think a very significant issue will be the first major news story about private micro camera use.

If it involves Criminals (perhaps corrupt government officials) being caught out, then the technology will swiftly become universal.

BUT if it involves a pedophile school teacher installing one in the boys changing room and linking it to a kiddie porn site... there will be widespread calls for the banning and criminalization of such things.

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