Well, another city authority is apparently paying no attention to the continuous stream of assessments of CCTV systems in practice. This time, it’s Winnipeg in Canada. The cheif of police is hopeful that the small 10-camera system will work and is already saying he hopes it will be extended… before we know whether it will or won’t work. As usual the story is nothing but boosterism and contains no contrary view at all. I can predict a stream of (police) anecdotes about crimes ‘solved’ by the cameras for a few months and how much safer the town is, and then a couple of years down the line, a report showing that nothing much has changed in reality…
Another new report shows that CCTV is not quite as effective as its advocates claim. The CITRIS report on the 4-year old, 70-camera, system in San Francisco, written by Jennifer King, Professor Deirdre Mulligan and Professor Steven Raphael shows that although there was a 20% reduction in crime against property crime in the areas covered by the cameras, crime against the person (robbery, mugging, assault, rape etc.) remained unaffected. This just adds the findings of many studies in the United Kingdom that show the same lack of preventative power from video surveillance.
Another day, another ridiculous device that plays on fear… British company Lok8U (urgh…) has produced a digital watch that can be used to track the wearer through GPS. Now there are plenty of these types of devices about from Bladerunner’s GPS-enabled jackets to services for tracking another person’s mobile phone.
But there is something rather more ominous about this one. It’s not just a friendly tracking device. It is, so the makers’ claim, “the world’s first GPS locator that locates your child… not just the device.” In other words, the watch is designed so that it cannot be removed by the wearer. Never mind prisoners on probation, or offenders on behaviour orders, this is basically DIY electronic tagging for your kids. Of course it won’t stop any actual harm coming to the little darlings (and in any case it will probably be as easily removed as electronic tags are) but it might just make both you and they even more afraid of the world than you are already.