One of the things that was intriguing me about the recent meteorite strikes in Russia was how come there was so much video footage available from inside cars. And not surprisingly some other surveillance researchers were thinking the same thing, and it was Gemma Galdon Clavell who provided the answer: apparently many Russians have dashboard-mounted cameras largely as a form of protection against corrupt cops and officials as well as scammers pretending to be cops and officials and worse.
This article from Radio Free Europe explains at least some of this.
Update: I should warn people not to watch the video links from that piece unless you want to see actual nasty accident footage. It’s not pleasant at all.
The police in the Russian capital have admitted that their police officers in several districts were watching pre-recorded video footage in place of live streaming surveillance pictures for an undetermined proportion of the five months from May to September last year, according to RT. It seems that the private company subcontracted to maintain the system, StroyMontageService, was defrauding the police of the equivalent of over a million dollars by recycling footage and not actually servicing the city’s video surveillance system.
Several questions are raised immediately here. Firstly, how closely were police actually watching if they didn’t even notice that they were watching recorded footage (surely the time-codes would have been wrong?); secondly, if the codes had been changed, how would there have been any way of them knowing, unless and until a major live situation was quite clearly not visible? Thirdly, how frequent is this kind of either deliberate fraud by subcontractor elsewhere, and indeed how common are simple errors that might lead to the same outcome? And finally, did this lack of live video feed make any difference to Moscow’s crime rate or clear-up rate. If they took five months to notice, it does rather suggest that video surveillance plays little role in either…