CBS News takes a look at the American public’s views on surveillance camera systems. I’ve discussed the privacy issues connected with such systems before, and my questions about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of camera surveillance systems remain. Constant surveillance treats all individuals as if they are already considered suspicious or guilty. Ubiquitous surveillance occurs in certain situations, such as prisons. Do we want people driving or walking in public to become as watched and tracked as prisoners?
From the operations center of the Office of Emergency Communications in Chicago “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty reports officials keep watch over the 232 square mile urban area with a massive network of cameras, creating a virtual eye in the sky. Officials refuse to give actual figures, but some estimate the number of publicly and privately owned cameras targeting Chicago to be around 15,000.
Nick Benton, a Chicago paramedic assigned to the operation center, said they can “Zoom in up to 32 times optically, and up to 184 times digitally.” […]
Jim Harper of the Cato Institute says the problem with surveillance cameras and technology is they have a spotty record of preventing crime. Instead, he says they are an invasion of privacy.
People in most cities are probably captured on cameras daily, if not multiple times a day,” Harper said. “As these cameras network together, and they as they are better capable at recognizing individual faces, people will realize just how they are being watched.”
Harper says the danger is when videos are released of individuals who are not actually involved in a crime. […]
But there is likely to be a demand for even more surveillance cameras. Officials say the solution then is ever more sophisticated equipment that catches criminals in the act.