Perhaps we're all experiencing a little Olympic withdrawal, because our article on Honeywell auctioning off the security equipment used to protect the Olympic games was a hot story on our newswire this week. It's a cool story, I'll admit, especially when you see the numbers:
Honeywell Building Solutions is beginning the final stage of its $30 million security contract with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police here: the removal of all the equipment that’s been installed to protect the 18 Olympic venues. But what to do with the roughly 1,300 Panasonic IP cameras, Computar lenses, 4,000 Xtralis PIRs, etc.
Although, $30 million is a minor expenditure compared to the $1 billion overall security tab that the Olympics racked up. But according to this article in the Vancouver Sun, Canadians are mixed about the departure of this equipment. Here's the lead graph (which in good journalism would be the basis of the rest of the article, but apparently not at the Vancouver Sun):
With the end of the Olympics, 1,000 or so Games-related surveillance cameras are being removed from Vancouver streets, sparking calls to keep them.
That's the only mention in this article that anyone would ever want more security cameras because, after all, it's just Big Brother "recording our every unconscious nose-pick or bum-scratch." (That's in there, for real.)
Actually, you would think Canadians were rioting in the streets trying to have the equipment removed based on the headline:
Good riddance to Olympic security cameras
Living in a democracy is about being able to feel free, not watched, whenever you leave your home and walk down the street
Um, pretty sure there's no expectation of privacy on public streets and as the article itself points out there are already 2,000 private cameras monitoring the downtown area. I don't get it. If there are already all these cameras monitoring public streets, why would this article so blatantly say having additional cameras is an effort to take away the freedom of its citizens?
And, the article continues, it's not like cameras actually make us any safer:
there doesn't seem to be any significant effect on crime rates from these cameras and the cost-benefit analysis numbers are very dodgy.
If surveillance cameras eliminated crime there would be no bank robberies, convenience store stickups or jewelry store heists.
I think the biggest point this article misses is that there were no major security incidents at the Olympics. Sure, there wasn't enough snow and some broken Zambonis, but there were no huge security issues. Other than some demonstrating that turned into rioting, it was pretty quiet, security-wise (well, that the public knows about anyway). But, no terrorist attacks and no real violence. Well, that means security was a success and was worth every penny, right? If you're in the security industry you know the mainstream media would never, ever, ever come out and say that. After all, it's only the bad stuff, the where-was-security stories that make the news.
Again, this really just confirms the security industry's biggest issue: You can't necessarily prove that having cameras and high-levels of security in place stopped any incidents from happening.
Oh, and just for your reading enjoyment, no article like this would ever be complete without a 1984 reference, right?
George Orwell's fictional world in 1984 is a perfect example and I can think of no more eloquent argument against the indiscriminate use of surveillance.
That is what is wrong with the push to add more cameras downtown.