CCTV is good for something… or is it?

MSNBC has some great footage of US Airways 1549 that crash-landed in the Hudson yesterday, taken from CCTV cameras on a nearby wharf.

However well this footage shows the undoubted skill of the pilot, I can’t help thinking every time I see this kind of use of CCTV footage that it must play a really important part in the process of normalisation. The fact that people can see footage from CCTV on the news adds to a largely mistaken impression that video surveillance ‘works’. It doesn’t matter whether the footage is of an amazing tale of heroism and survival, a crash or a crime prevented or committed, the images have a pre-rational power. They create a ‘demand’ for more cameras or the idea that they are necessary even though we may be watching something that nothing to do with the purpose of the cameras, and may even, as in the case of images of crime occurring, be witnessing the overt failure of the preventative purpose of CCTV.

Still, great video, isn’t it?

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

3 thoughts on “CCTV is good for something… or is it?”

  1. Thank-you, CCTV in chennai – I take it you are in Chennai in India – has there been an expansion of CCTV there?

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