From New York to Tokyo – the major cities of the world stay safe with the aid of sophisticated CCTV surveillance systems. The big question seems to be – is it neighbourhood watch or is it a sinister Big Brother?
Original articles published in the early 2000’s indicated that the concerns for privacy come second to fears of crime in Tokyo. What started out as installations of neighbourhood watch CCTV surveillance projects has taken route in the city and police encouraged private surveillance and later even leased cameras to private households. The Metropolitan Police Department started surveying streets in late 2004 and noticed a sharp decrease in the frequency of crime once the cameras were erected.
Fast-forward ten years to a surveillance society where robotic eyes watch your every move. According to an article by Josei Seven, a typical housewife with a part-time job would during the course of a given day be photographed by 150 to 200 cameras!
New York seemed to get a lot more media attention for their widely publicised CCTV surveillance project which developed largely in response to 9/11. In 2015, the NYPD could tap into 6 000 surveillance cameras, two thirds of which are privately owned. There are another 7,000 in public housing and more than 4,000 in the city’s subway stations. This however, pales into insignificance compared to London, where there is one camera for every 16 people and they help solve about 6 crimes a day. They were instrumental in identifying the Neo-Nazi “Nail Bomber” and the notorious serial killer known as the “Ipswich Ripper.”
CCTV cameras are useful for court cases where witness statements do not agree and help determine culpability in unclear cases. They are also used as counter terrorism measures and even help to identify cops who might employ excessive force so nobody is exempt from them.
The successful implementation of CCTV and mass surveillance of London is proof that this type of surveillance need not produce a Police state.