Keeping a watchful eye on video surveillanceWritten by Patricia Pickett Wednesday, 12 August 2009 06:01
We see it all the time in television shows like 24: The bad guy is on the run and the authorities have no idea which way he went. But by simply tapping into a video surveillance system and checking out the footage from 10 minutes ago, the police figure out exactly where to find him. Thanks to CCTV cameras, the criminal is apprehended and the case is closed - at least until the next episode.
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SCAN's mandate and scope
A group of academics operating under the umbrella of the Surveillance Project at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., SCAN's goal is to provide reliable research resources on surveillance camera use in Canada, and to promote awareness of CCTV issues.
"We realized that there really isn't a sustained cooperation among those who are interested in analyzing video surveillance, but at the same time, there is a lot of public policy and media interest in it," explains David Lyon, director of the Surveillance Project and Queen's research chair in sociology.
Lyon says SCAN is currently working on a study for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) titled A Report on Camera Surveillance in Canada. The report covers topics such as the emerging digitization of CCTV equipment, the impact of shifting technological capabilities and how those capabilities enable facial recognition technology. Part two will analyze survey data collected between 2006 and 2008 regarding public acceptance of video surveillance in Canada, how it relates to that of other countries, the public's knowledge of how video surveillance works, and the level of trust in organizations that use CCTV.
The report will also look at how camera operators perceive their work, focus on certain kinds of subjects and respond emotionally to the subjects they see. Specific examples of CCTV use, such as in taxi cabs in Ottawa or planned implementation at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, will also be examined. A section on how television programs like Crime Stoppers use CCTV will be included and the issues associated with the media's promotion of video surveillance as a crime-fighting tool will be examined.
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