An eye on safety

An eye on safety

If you have ever imagined what it feels like to be in the 'Bigg Boss' house, think no more! Bengalureans will soon get a taste of what it feels like to be under the watchful gaze of an omnipresent being when over 2,700 CCTV cameras will grace the city's wards by December end.  

Seen as invaluable tools to help the police maintain law and order as well as help with the investigation of cases, CCTV  cameras have been seeing a surge in their popularity of late.  

Says Rahul Sankar, a tour operator, "It is a good initiative by the government. These cameras do well to instil fear in the minds of petty criminals and help to prevent small crimes. For the ones who are worried about infringement of civil liberties, I want to point out that these cameras are there for your safety. And once outside, one is in the public eye anyway. So what privacy concerns do you have?".

These public surveillance systems have become commonplace fixtures in our roads and buildings. But while many don't even spare a glance at these cameras, others are questioning their efficacy and the rationale behind spending taxpayers' money on it.

"This technology can only help in the post-mortem analysis of an untoward incident;  they aren't very effective in controlling the occurrence of crimes," says Indu Lokan, a management professional. "Many studies have been conducted which have shown that CCTV cameras have not been successful in curbing crimes. Criminals have become smarter and they know how to avoid being captured on these cameras."

"As a woman, seeing surveillance cameras looming over my head does not make me feel particularly safe when I walk home at night or cross a deserted street. Metro cities in India have no dearth of CCTV cameras on roads and buildings but the crime rate against women in these very cities has reached alarming proportions. So why are we spending so much money on a device which not only fails to make us safer but also violates our personal rights?" she asks.

While the debate around this move has seen a number of shrill voices from both sides of the bench, a large number of people prefer to walk down the middle path. They feel that while the beneficial claims around this piece of technology may be dubious, it is better to be safe than sorry.  

"It isn't hurting anybody, except the advocates of privacy rights," says Shweta Sharma, an MNC professional. "I understand their concerns; this could be the beginning of moving towards a dystopian society where each and every move of ours will be monitored by the state. But in a country with a high rate of crimes, video surveillance seems to be unavoidable. At least petty incidents like shoplifting or breaking in can be stopped or solved with the help of this. I just feel that it should not be seen as a supplement for actual policing of the streets," she notes.  

Looks like we will just have to live with it. In the meantime, smile! You are on camera.  

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