What about public surveillance? Should cameras be placed in public places? Are security cameras an invasion of privacy? What are the CCTV advantages and disadvantages?
In a debate about whether surveillance cameras should be put in public areas, like schools, stores, libraries, airports, bars, and clubs. Although most people believe that they should not be used.
The presence of security surveillance and CCTV in our society has fueled a heated debate on whether this is a negative or positive development.
However, these systems can be a vital part of society and can be helpful. In order to live safer, we install home security cameras in and out of our house.
Let’s check out how public places can benefit from CCTV and Security Surveillance:
- Part 1. Are Security Cameras an Invasion of Privacy
- Part 2. Top 5 Pros of Public Video Surveillance
- Part 3. Top 3 Cons of Public CCTV Cameras
As the use of cameras and video recording devices becomes more common, society at large is becoming concerned about privacy issues related to cameras and other security surveillance devices. Many people feel that cameras, especially hidden ones, are a threat to their right to privacy.
Here are a number of things to consider prior to installing any type of camera or other surveillance devices:
- Camera surveillance and video recording in “public” spaces are usually legal.
- Camera surveillance and video recording in “private” spaces are usually not legal. Areas as “privacy” exist include restrooms, showers, dressing rooms, lockers rooms, employee lounges, first aid rooms, and other similar spaces (click here to learn why).
- The laws relating to the recording of audio are usually much stricter than the laws relating to the recording of video. Despite the fact that most video recorders allow the recording of audio as well as video, the use of the audio recording feature is illegal in many applications.
- Some jurisdictions may require that a sign be posted giving notice that the area is under video or audio surveillance.
- Cameras that observe employee work areas are usually legal but can create morale problems if employees feel that the cameras are being used to track their productivity and work habits. The coverage and purpose of cameras and other surveillance devices should be clearly communicated to all employees. It is suggested that this topic be included in the company employee handbook.
- Companies that have employees represented by a union or other trade organization should verify that the installation of cameras or other surveillance devices does not violate the terms of any collective bargaining agreement.
- Be especially careful with hidden or “covert” camera installations. While it may be tempting to try and catch a thief, an improperly obtained recording is useless as evidence and may subject the company to legal damages costing far more than any theft ever would.
Check the laws concerning audio and video surveillance applicable in your state or province. The proposed use of cameras (particularly covert cameras) in questionable areas should be reviewed by your attorney prior to installation.
Let’s look at the Top 5 benefits of surveillance cameras in public places.
1. Public Video Surveillance Increase Public Safety
When we install a home security camera, we gain increased house safety. Just like surveillance on our private property improves our home security, surveillance in public areas increases public safety. Public surveillance can aid in keeping you safe when you are out and about.
Public security cameras can keep an eye out for crimes as well as act as a deterrent. For example, PTZ 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 suspicious individuals are seen in an area, authorities may be able to get ahead of the situation and possibly move innocent bystanders out of harm’s way.
According to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015, nearly 80% of public schools put up surveillance systems in public places to secure campuses. It even introduces AI-powered facial recognition security systems.
2. Public Surveillance Cameras Reduce Crime Rate
According to statistics, after security cameras are installed, crimes rates drop. For example, crime rates in Humboldt Park dropped 20% after video surveillance was implemented. As previously mentioned, the presence of security cameras acts as a deterrent as criminals do not want to risk getting caught on camera.
3. Public Video Surveillance Helps Catch Criminals
For crimes committed where video surveillance is present, the chance of catching criminals is much higher. With advanced technology like facial recognition, security cameras may be able to better identify criminals, helping authorities to track them down. Also, these images and information may be shared with the public to help spread the word. It may be difficult to obtain eyewitness accounts, but with security cameras, you often have video evidence of the events that transpired.
Catching criminals is one of the best benefits of surveillance cameras in public places. The bombing 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.
4. Video Cameras in Public Locations Provide Evidence & Gather Clues
Along the same lines, surveillance footage can be used as evidence in the courtroom. On the other hand, video footage may also help to prove a person’s innocence.
In some cases, if there were no CCTV security camera systems in public places, there would be little or no evidence to convict the person of the crime and the individual may go free. With night vision security cameras on watch, robbers can be recognized even if they commit a crime in dark areas.
Additionally, in some cases, the public video surveillance footage can also help prove someone’s innocence if they have been accused of a crime that they did not commit.
Either way, recordings of public areas can help provide clues to solve crimes, and may even provide solid evidence for criminal cases.
Research on the value of CCTV systems shows that CCTV footage is classified as useful in 62.2% of robbery investigations and nearly 61% of assault investigations.
5. Public Video Surveillance Brings Convenience for Daily Life
Convenience comes in the form of traffic cameras. Surveillance cameras at stoplights help to prevent drivers from speeding through a red light, while security cameras installed on streets and freeways can help to monitor traffic conditions in real-time.
And also, relevant authorities can monitor road conditions with live surveillance cameras. So they can make real-time traffic reports, helping people choose the right time and road when going out.
While there are advantages of CCTV, there are disadvantages. Here are some bad points of public CCTV cameras.
1. Surveillance Systems Are Easily Abused
Unfortunately, this helpful technology can be easily abused. For example, information collected from public cameras can potentially be used as a form of blackmail.
Another example is voyeurism and stalking. To combat these issues, strict regulations on public surveillance must be put into place.
2. Doubts About Public Security Camera Effectiveness
In addition, many people doubt the effectiveness of public surveillance. While statistics may show that crimes and incident rates have decreased. But, 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 public CCTV cameras 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. Security cameras are not as effective when it comes to horrific acts such as terrorism.
3. Public Camera Surveillance Is Expensive
The cost of public security cameras is another issue. Since many doubt the effectiveness, they feel that public surveillance systems are 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?
They argue that high maintenance and costs of these systems is not justified by their limited results.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, officials in Michigan have been proposing to put up public video surveillance for years, but ended up concluding that the limited results could not justify high maintenance and personnel costs.
Conclusion of Installing Public Surveillance Cameras
To sum it up, these are 5 advantages and 3 disadvantages of placing CCTV and Security Surveillance in public places.
On the other hand, there are always crimes that 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.
There is no doubt that in today’s world, public cameras are very useful. As far as I am concerned, the benefits of surveillance outweigh the disadvantages greatly.
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 top of priority.