Security Camera Use Increasing in Cities

Recently PBS Newshour aired an interesting story on the increasing use of video surveillance in society and the increased push for more security cameras in big cities. In particular, the San Francisco police chief is calling for more real-time monitoring of surveillance cameras throughout the city.

Some groups have expressed concerns about the right to privacy and this raises important questions: Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in public areas? Should police be allowed to continually monitor any public area in real time? What are the boundary lines that need to be drawn regarding the use of video surveillance by police departments? Just how effective are security cameras at preventing crime? Does the value of video surveillance evidence outweigh privacy concerns?

Video analytics (software algorithms designed to analyze objects in a scene for a while, facial recognition, biometric analysis etc.) are also increasingly being used. Video analytics software company 3VR was interviewed for this story and the capabilities and limitations video analytics were discussed. Video analytics isn’t perfect, but it is constantly being improved to allow for more in-depth analysis of security camera footage.

While security cameras in and of themselves cannot necessarily prevent a crime, the video evidence they provide can be used to solve and prosecute crimes, as well as gather information about criminal activity in an area. However, privacy concerns and the “big brother” creep factor have some people concerned. So what do you think about the increased use of video surveillance by police departments in public areas?

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