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Surveillance Cameras-the New Urban Site ''Amenity''




Incorporating security cameras on light poles is becoming more prevalent. This one is on the Robert Street Bridge in Minneapolis. The use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) on U.S. streets is less common than in the U.K., and generally meets stronger opposition. However, since 9/11, public perception of CCTV has grown more favorable. There are now more than 10,000 CCTV systems in Chicago.

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Surveillance of the public streets using video cameras hooked to closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitors is particularly common in the U.K., where, according to The Guardian, there are more cameras per person than in any other country in the world. Research published in CCTV Image magazine estimates that the number of cameras in the U.K. is 1.85 million.

China, however, is emerging, as it is in so many other areas, as a big player in public surveillance. Shades of ''Big Brother.'' For the younger generation, we're not talking about the reality television show by the same name, but the totalitarian state in George Orwell's novel, 1984, in which the people are under complete and constant surveillance by ''telescreens,'' and constantly reminded of this fact by the phrase ''Big Brother is watching you.''

Chongqing in southwest China, a mega city of 31.4 million formerly known as Chungking, is planning a $2.6 billion security system involving 500,000 surveillance cameras. The computerized cameras will be installed by 2012.

There's been a crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing over the last two years and authorities are increasingly using technology to keep tabs on the bad guys. China, of course, has been in the news for its aggressive policing of online activity, including blocking sites from its citizens that it deems not in the best interests of the country. The online crackdown is known as the ''Great Firewall of China.''

According to a new report by Electronics.ca Publications, the global video surveillance market is expected to grow from $11.5 billion ($U.S.) in 2008 to $37.7 billion by 2015.


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November 20, 2019, 2:23 pm PDT

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