Posts Tagged ‘ Big Brother is watching you ’

Crime Prevention with CCTV

Written By:
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

A smart man once said “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, the video footage that records 30 frames per second, has a lot to say. The CCTV trend started in 1986 in the United Kingdom with 3 cameras in 1 square mile area in a town called King’s Lynn. Today, England has more CCTV cameras than any country in the world, with half a million making up its network, nicknamed the “Ring of Steel”. In all those years of development, the “Ring of Steel” cost more than $330 million. Many U.S. cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, followed and began installing the police surveillance cameras in the early 1990s. Those CCTV systems jumped by almost 700 percent from 1980-2000. With the multiple gadgets that we carry every day in our possession, the recording of video footage became more accessible to each one of us. If you also take into consideration the multiple CCTV systems that are installed everywhere we go, there is a very good chance that someone’s camera will record the incident that you are involved in. Knowing this, most say that having this amount of cameras is also a great crime prevention utility.

Law enforcement use of CCTV as a tool to fight crime and terrorism has become more prevalent over time. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Walking down the street, do you sense that someone somewhere is keeping an eye on you? These days, chances are, you’re right. A growing number of cities across the United States and abroad have installed networks of closed-circuit television CCTV cameras. Police monitor the video in an effort to prevent crime and catch lawbreakers in the act. In the United States, privacy issues related to the use of CCTV surveillance are first and foremost in regard to the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects a citizen from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement and other government agencies. The emphasis is on the protection of people, not places. As a result, at least in terms of clearly public places, citizens cannot have an expectation of privacy. Surveillance of individuals in public places would therefore appear to be constitutionally acceptable. This interpretation stretches only so far.

One of the best examples is the Boston Marathon bombing that happened on April 15, 2013. 3 days after, the suspects were identified by the FBI using video surveillance footage. The CCTV system played a major role in identifying the responsible for the terror act.


One of the most useful applications for video recording evidence is to establish the identity of the perpetrator(s) of an offence. This is especially important given the frailties that are associated with eyewitness identification evidence.

Mobile video surveillance also became very popular and used daily by the law enforcement agencies. Today, many police departments in the United States and worldwide are applying this technology to patrol operations by equipping their vehicles with mobile video recording equipment. Although the early attempts to place cameras in patrol vehicles were full with technical and safety problems, miniaturization and advances in technology have made the use of the mobile video recorder practical and affordable. As technology in the field of audio/visual recordings evolves, equipping police vehicles with in-car cameras will be the norm and no longer the exception. Now, some police departments are using miniaturized video cameras and their microphones to capture, in full detail, officers’ interactions with civilians. High-capacity battery packs can last for an extended shift. And, all of the videos are uploaded automatically to a central server that serves as a kind of digital evidence locker. Undoubtedly CCTV evidence is convincing, though CCTV’s ability to reduce overall crime levels through detection (rather than prevention) is less convincing and arguably a less effective way of impacting crime. For this mechanism to be effective, the implementer must believe arrests are the best way to solve a crime problem.

Not only agencies are using the advantage of the CCTV systems. Since the whole trend started, the prices of these systems decreased dramatically and became very affordable for private citizens.  It seems like the best defense in court today, is the video footage that will prove beyond the reasonable doubt your righteousness in a court of law. The law abiding citizen knows that video footage is the best way to protect his/herself in a shooting situation afterwards in court. There are approximately 300 million guns in US which are part of our life and used daily by good guys and bad guys as well. Unfortunately, the forensic science cannot provide the whole picture in the investigation of a crime scene, and you can find yourself in trouble with the law very quickly.  Any attorney will tell you that there is a very thin line between self-defense and man-slaughter and there is no better way to prove that you had the right to use your firearm to defending yourself, than with video footage.

In 2014, we witnessed 2 very controversial incidents that made a lot of waves in arguing the right for self-defense. Both the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown did not have any video surveillance evidence, which made those very hard to prove and cost the tax payer a substantial amount of money. Can you imagine of how things could have turned out differently if they had the video footage of the incidents!??!?!


Implementers should be aware that technology is always on the march, and a number of particular innovations are imminent. Two systems are undergoing rapid development. Backscatter low-level x-ray imaging is a technology that provides the potential to see through clothing and detect weapons and other prohibited materials. Facial recognition systems require a link to another computer system within a police department, such as a database containing photographs of wanted individuals. Beyond their use to identify specific fugitives, the next generation of CCTV camera images may also be analyzed by problem recognition systems. Unlike basic motion detection systems (which activate a camera when a sensor is tripped), problem recognition systems are software programs that interpret video images from a CCTV camera. The program attempts to identify problems such as potential robberies or street brawls by seeking out unusual characteristics or patterns in digital images. They can also be programmed to identify out-of-place articles, such as abandoned packages or weapons. Some cities are also considering the introduction of cameras with systems that can identify the source of firearm activity and automatically train their cameras on the source of that activity. All of these next-generation systems will carry with them particular issues in terms of police response, the public’s perception of safety, and, may also influence the public’s perception of the government’s intrusion into private life.


Big Brother is Watching You!

Written By:
Friday, June 20th, 2014
Big brother is watching

Have you ever had that feeling that someone’s is watching you? Chances are, you’re right!  If you often spend time in any major city, government building, bank, shopping center, airport, train station, port, and gas station (amongst almost any other facility that is open to the public) you are more than likely being recorded on some sort of surveillance system.  Now, whether or not someone is on the other end endlessly watching the cameras or not you may never know.  When people often think of security cameras they commonly refer to being watched by big brother!  Often times it is just hard working business owners trying to protect their investments from the scum of this world, other times it will be security professionals watching for the “suspicious” activity.  Most systems are generally used to record the information and it is only retrieved when an event occurs or there is a dispute of some sort. Now when you go to a big sporting event, or other large gathering, the police will often times use these systems to scan the crowd to look for dangerous people, especially in the wake with the Boston Marathon bombings. These systems are being harnessed for the protection of all citizens and to ensure no more copycat attempts.

I often hear from people that, “I don’t understand why my company put in security cameras!  What, don’t they trust me?” Commonly, it’s not the lack of trust of specific individuals; it is that they want to know what is going on and make sure that the scum don’t try and falsely bring allegations or lawsuits against them.  Erroneous lawsuits hurt everyone in society. The cost of goods have gone up tremendously with all the bogus slip and fall lawsuits that occur in supermarkets and other retail stores. Since the implementation of higher quality security cameras these lawsuits have been slowly diminishing. You have to remember that there are people in this society that will try and get away with things if no one is there to watch them.  Trust me when I first started working here it was a little weird being video and sound recorded!  After a few days it went away, and I started thinking about it and realized that if I am not doing anything wrong why does it matter if I am being watched!

When it comes to security cameras, their purpose is generally used for good! I know that I always feel safer knowing that there are cameras around. I think the main reason is that I know if something is to happen, at least there is a recording of the event/s that occurred to help me prove my case. For ninety percent, give or take a few percent, of people will do the right thing when being watched. Now if you take away the cameras that percentage would drop drastically, I feel this has a lot to do with the fact that people are generally risk takers. If there is a chance to get away with something people are more likely to take that risk! I’m not implying that people are inherently bad, I am expressing that the devil in people are more likely to come out when they feel they can get away with the crime. You should really not fear the fact that security cameras are in use across the country. Your concerns should be more focused on what are government agencies are doing that you don’t even have a clue about! At least a camera system leaves some evidence in case a crime does occur.


If you want to fear something, you should fear what the NSA (National Security Agency) does on a daily basis that you and I may never know about unless defectors continue to spill their secrets. One such program that was revealed in the past month is known as PRISM. From what is known, this program allows for authorized analysts of the NSA to pull detailed information from consumers of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, and other firms. Under the shield of the government, this program allows for the extraction of e-mails, photos, documents, chats, as well as other information without any search warrants or court rulings.

Another program that just had information released about it is the NSA’s XKEYSCORE program. From what I can tell this is a series of Linux clusters that have been massively distributed around the world, which is completely scalable to meet the needs of the NSA. It seems that these clusters collect data from almost all Internet traffic and store it in a database for later use by the NSA. They can query the information to learn a lot of information about anything they want really.

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the FBI unlimited authority for three months to indiscriminately collect all phone call data on every Verizon customer at home or abroad. This information is being put into a database for use when trying to determine potential terrorist threats. It is a little unnerving that it is a blanket collection, but the way I look at it is that I am not doing anything wrong so it isn’t affecting me directly.

I am not defending what the NSA or other agencies are doing as right or wrong! I just want you to be aware that I would fear them more than I would fear a camera system recording me. Unfortunately in the day and age that we currently live in, we need to become accustom to being recorded in all aspects of our lives. We live in a digital world with lots of digital footprints that we all leave on a daily basis. Sometimes these footprints are more incriminating than any video evidence will be. This is generally because people feel that what they do on the Internet in the comfort of their own home isn’t being monitored. If more people just understood that no matter what you do in this world, you are being watched and monitored. So treat everything you do as if you are not alone, more people would do the right things and not be so tempted by the bad things.