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Susumo Azano addresses the use of modern surveillance

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Fifteen years ago, Susumo Azano founded the company, Security Tracking Device SA de CV. He’s an expert when it comes to wireless security networks and Government projects. He also works closely with homeland security and International bodies. Mr. Azano has construction, engineering and industrial experience, so when it comes to overall security measures and cutting-edge technology, these settings can be crucial to understanding modern surveillance.

People in America are slowly becoming more comfortable with public surveillance methods like CCTVs. Many people have objections of this type of system because they don’t like the feeling of ‘being watched’. However, it has been argued that since public surveillance methods do not invade privacy and only ‘see’ what any passerby would, they’re not unreasonably interfering with personal space. In fact, they can provide (when needed) an accurate account of the activity in question without the fallibility inherent with witnesses’ statements and their memory of what happened. This is why many private business owners have opted to use surveillance in and around their businesses.

On the flip side, CCTV use in the UK has been extended to city streets, shopping centers, parks, picnic areas etc., and it has become something of a second nature - something members of the public don’t notice anymore. Their use of public surveillance has also helped them in the detection and solving of terrorist-type crimes in the capital city.

Their UK Parliament website has quoted a high ranking police official as saying: "Several years ago London was suffering from a nail bombing campaign by an individual … targeting specific parts of London with his nail bombs and there were extremist groups claiming responsibility for the actions. That event was entirely supported by CCTV evidence in terms of actually detecting that crime. What value do you put on the price of that detection?"

Susumo Azano discusses the key features of public surveillance acceptance

Susumo Azano points out that if more wide-spread public surveillance is to be given any fair consideration in this country, systems should be put in place to control misuse, and clarify advantages/disadvantages. This will abate the public’s inclination to reject it. After all, the camera set up to catch a mugger operating in a side street is the same camera which will catch a policeman who stops and searches a driver without cause.

Surveillance technologies have to be relevant

If surveillance technologies such as CCTVs become too widespread they’ll begin to interfere with the public’s personal and family lives. Once this happens, people will forget the advantages and adamantly reject their use. The public must have an input, their questions must be answered, and their fears must be put to rest. Mr. Azano recommends that this is the only way individuals will accept the positive elements of CCTV. Members of the public should feel protected, not invaded; considered, not ignored. They should feel that any protection brought by the surveillance enhances their freedom and civil liberties, not binds them.

People have to be clear on the benefits of surveillance

After making sure that the members of the public understand what the surveillance is being used for and why they’re there, the next step is to educate them on the benefits of surveillance technologies like CCTV. As mentioned before, the use of CCTV in public places has really caught on in the UK. Figures have proven that crime in areas now with surveillance cameras has been reduced drastically.

Public places which make use of this kind of surveillance will always make this apparent by putting up signs where they can clearly be seen. And since criminals are less likely to commit crimes if they know they’re been seen, this becomes a great deterrent.

The advantage this brings to members of the public can by far outweigh the apprehension they feel about this type of technology. Crimes in public car parks, for example, will see a drastic fall with the introduction of this strategy.

Succinctly differentiate between ‘privacy’ and ‘surveillance’

The top concern raised in most of the online forums talking about public surveillance like CCTVs, is ‘the protection of privacy’. Users have said it’s an infringement of their civil liberties. Others are baffled as to “why the government would want to film people doing normal [not criminal] activities in public”.

This is exactly the point! Some members of the public equate surveillance with the unreasonable infringement of privacy – equal to breaking into their homes and conducting a search without a warrant. Some have even expressed concern because they erroneously think public surveillance will extend to restrooms.

There needs to be more information to rectify this fallacy. CCTVs only record what a police officer can legally see. Nothing recorded is ever broadcast and only criminal activities are noted and used as material evidence. There also needs to be information about the systems in place to prevent misuse (like putting cameras in restrooms).

Members of the public have to be guaranteed that methods like these will never, ever be used. The fact is that an individual caught on a CCTV camera will never be arrested for a crime if he/she does not commit a crime. All these elements have to be resolved and the public made aware of their legal and civil rights, should public surveillance become more widespread, cautions Susumo Azano.

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