Here’s You Need to Know About Society and CCTV Cameras

Society and CCTV Cameras

With the high level of crime in big cities, it is unsurprising that most people are rushing  for  best CCTV camera brands.

At the very least, we all collectively agree that CCTV cameras are used to offer a sense of security to people.

Other discourse would argue that cameras are utilized for a lot more than just security – they are used for surveillance.

Surveillance is a word that can have both good and bad connotations depending on where you stand on the subject.

But before we get into that discussion, it would be good to understand the logic behind CCTV cameras installed in every nook and cranny of the country.

The word ‘banal’ is used to describe something that is unoriginal or uninteresting. One could wonder why that word would ever be related to CCTV cameras.

I would argue, why wouldn’t it? We as a society never think about CCTV cameras, where they are positioned, and who is watching us. What is their purpose?

CCTV cameras are based on the principle of a panopticon disciplinary system. A panopticon is used to describe a prison that is circular with all the doors of the jail cells facing inwards.

Towards the centre of this prison is a singular guard tower that is able to view every inmate from their distant position.

A huge light is positioned at the top of this tower that both aids the guards’ vision and ensures that prisoners cannot see where the guard is looking.

The purpose of this setup is that although the prisoners can be viewed by the guard at all times, they cannot ever see where the guard is looking.

Theoretically, this ensures that they are always on their best behaviour as they never know whether they are being watched or not.

This surveillance system can successfully make inmates police their own behaviour, saving the guards time and energy.

The concept of the panopticon applies to CCTV cameras in a similar manner. Since the usage of these cameras has become more and more common, it is common knowledge that they are present everywhere.

In fact, people are purposely made aware that they are being watched using signboards or verbal announcements.

Cameras are also banal, in that while we all know they are there, we don’t know where and for the most part we don’t care to know either.

They’re uninteresting to a lot of people. Now, we are made aware that we are being watched without being told where from.

This, theoretically, leads to a sense of self-discipline in people. Even if a CCTV camera was clearly visible to a person, they would still be compelled to act appropriately.

Why? Because you never know when you’re being watched. That fear of the all-seeing eye theoretically keeps people in check.

It is important to remember that this is entirely theory-based and while some people may adhere to society’s disciplinary rules better when they’re watched by CCTV cameras, not everyone cares about being watched or caught. Crime continues to persist whether cameras are present or not.

Now that we know what theories CCTV cameras are based on, let us move on to their use. As mentioned above, these cameras are utilized for security and surveillance.

It can be argued, however, that security is a very small part of their function. For example, if a robbery takes place in an apartment, CCTV cameras can only reveal the details of the crime after it has been committed.

This can. of course, help bring the criminals to justice but the crime is committed either way. At most, one can utilize cameras to check who is knocking at their door and avoid any unwanted or dangerous visitors.

Hence instead of playing a preventative role, cameras play the role of letting us know who committed the crime and when. So are they in fact meant for security?

There is ample debate going around the world about the necessity of CCTV cameras, especially considering the number of cameras that are now present in the world.

New Delhi ranks highest in the world for the number of CCTV cameras per square mile in a city.

The city itself has seen multiple protests and demonstrations, that were monitored from behind the camera at a safe distance, and those who visited were identified.

Since CCTV cameras are placed in places people generally don’t tend to look at (above average height, high up on a ceiling, etc), they are ignored. Hence people don’t take them into account, no matter how they behave.

Thanks to this, the police were able to apprehend multiple people who turned protests violent.

Widespread surveillance in theory sounds like a great idea. It can help us catch criminals faster and provides excellent proof for their conviction.

It is also important to remember the possibility that surveillance systems can fall into the wrong hands and cause more harm than good.

For example, a hack of CCTV cameras across America left many households, hospitals, and cars at the mercy of the hacker.

Similarly, oppressive governments use CCTV cameras to imprison any citizen they feel has wronged them, whether it is logical or not.

There is a risk that comes with over-surveillance and if it isn’t discussed, it can be catastrophic.

CCTV cameras are made to be banal for a reason. If we don’t know where they are we will police our actions on our own.

On the downside, if they fall into the wrong hands, they can be tools for exploitation. Hence the mass use of CCTV cameras is something that should be kept in check and their need should be discussed more across societies.