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!