Forum E

Hi all.

Please visit the following links to various websites of organizations and projects, which are creating public maps of surveillance cameras erected in their local communities.


What arguments are these organizations and maps making?  How would you put Flusty into conversation with these maps?  In other words, how do these maps extend, complicate, affirm, negate, concede, etc. with the arguments Flusty is making?  What concerns does the surveillance of public space raise for you or not raise for you?  What is really at stake here in the proliferation of camera surveillance in public space that these arguments are shedding?  How would you respond to Flusty? How would you weigh in here? 

Importantly, what research projects might you see emerging related to security and public space?  What kinds of research do you think were performed to create these maps?  How does the research we have been doing with geosemiotics relate?

4 responses to “Forum E

  1. For the most part, these organizations and maps are showing us the massive expansion of surveillance in public places, more specifically major cities such as Los Angeles, NYC, or Philadelphia. More specifically in the first PDF, which talks about the use of cameras in NYC, there were many reports about people getting their privacy disturbed by the power of these surveillance techniques and that there really is no law regarding the distribution or viewing of video images from around the city. Flusty fits into this conversation because he feels that our rights are slowly diminishing as a result of these cameras, and public space in general is becoming more and more privatized with the close eyes that are on us. It’s hard to walk around anywhere and not have a camera on you, and Flusty notes that “sites in which the daily life and face to face interaction take place…are being sacrificed to redundant zones of oversight and proprietary control.” He also notes that this “threatens the free exchange of ideas engendering a progressive society.” As you look into the shear facts and numbers, it is had to deny that he is not accurate. The maps truly affirm and extend the arguments that Flusty is making.

    The real issue that many people have is that our rights of freedom are slowly dimininishing as more and more of these cameras are installed. We can be carefully watched at any time and viewed throughout our daily activities. It’s scary that what we view as public space is actually being watched by someone else. How can public space be public if private organizations have a constant eye on them? I agree with Flusty’s comments; I do feel that these over-surviellance and obsession with security may be a little much. However, for the most part, it’s obvious that 9/11 was a wake up call. For a long time, we felt safe in our country. We felt that our public transportation wasn’t something to fear, but simply something to get us from one place to another. When our planes were hijacked that day almost 10 year ago, our country shifted. Yes, since then cameras were slowly making their way into our cities, but after the fact, they skyrocketed. I don’t think that people on the police force and those keeping a watch on us are out to get us. However, I do see the points Flusty is making. We do however, live in an age where we need to stay as protected as possible. Sure, we can nag over airport security, among other things, but at the end of the day, we take these precautions not to be time-consuming, but to protect all of us. A line can be drawn between security and our rights. Surely, there are moments where these rights are infringed on, and others may take advantage of the power of their positions. Something needs to be done to perfect the system in order to prevent these issues from arriving. However, I don’t think we should take it “easy” in this day in age.

    Research projects related to security and public space could range from counting cameras around us to interviewing individuals about how they feel about us being watched. However, I think a bias will emerge depending on how you may phrase your questions. If you approach someone and say, “How do you feel about security cameras watching your every move?”, surely the only response will be one of outlash and ridicule for such systems. However, if you were to say, “What is your opinion on security cameras installed to prevent crime on campus,” we would certainly get another response. It’s certainly an interesting subject.

    In order to create these maps, I think the easiest way to research them is to simply go around and count for yourself. However, I would think there would be some public database which tracks the growth of surveillance in major cities already, although I may be wrong. This would certainly speed of the process of research. This could relate to our research because it directly affects public space. Public space is usually thought of as being taken over by private companies in a physical manner, however this insight into security and cameras is a “virtual” way to hinder the growth of public space without physically changing the environment.

  2. These websites show the new camera systems that are being installed all over the country. These specific articles talks about the camera systems being installed in major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The first PDF talks about cameras being installed in New York City. Many people have complained about these cameras, saying that it is an invasion of privacy. There is no law stating the restriction of these camera uses, or who is viewing them. The public is now always being watched and this frightens many people. Flusty’s article talks about the security uses of these cameras and how they can be helpful in certain situations, but he feels that our rights are slowly being stripped away from us. Public space doesn’t seem so public anymore does it? It is hard to function on a daily basis while you are knowingly being watched every step you take.

    I personally feel that these cameras really do more harm than good. It makes us (the public) feel like we cannot be trusted. In some cases that is true. These cameras do offer an effective way of catching criminals and putting them to justice, but for the rest of the world who isn’t a criminal it makes us feel untrustworthy. I think that society has functioned long enough with out these cameras and I think that we can continue to function without these cameras. Terrorism or terrorist wasn’t a word that came up very often through out the mid 1900’s. Why has it become such an overused word now? Ever since 9/11 every one has been so cautious of what they do. Before that day everyone felt a certain comfort level in our country and an attack really did not seem possible, but I guess anything can happen. After that day the government really wanted to know what every single person in this country was doing at every waking minute of the day. By all means I would too, but taking it to the point where there is a surveillance camera at every street corner is ludicrous.

    A research project related to security and public space could be first monitor a certain area with out any cameras there and see how people interact with each other at that spot. Then install fake cameras in that spot and see how the public changes their actions due to being watched. After you get your data about the different interactions you could then interview a few people and see what their thoughts about that was.

  3. These links show the amount of surveillance the government and private firms have throughout major cities. The first article contained maps of New York that show the increase in surveillance cameras. The attacks on 9/11 heightened everyone’s sense of security and gave the government a reason to track our movements. In addition, there is nothing as of yet the people of New York can do about this invasion of privacy. Although cameras are popping up as if it’s nothing, the government has not kept up with protecting its citizens right to privacy. Furthermore, there is no law regarding the distribution of the surveillance tapes. Thousand’s of security cameras watching the city’s streets and no laws protecting your privacy, hardly seems like you have the right anymore.

    In Flusty’s article I agree with the idea that public space is disappearing. The spaces which are supposed to be for the people are now monitored by company’s and the government, which are far from public. I have mixed feelings about security cameras. They are a great deterrent of crime, however private company’s or the government are allowed to do whatever they want with the footage which is unconstitutional.

    An interesting research project would be to look into whether cameras combat crime. One could research phone records of reported robberies and if the police actually caught the offender. Then search the records of crimes caught on tape and if they were able to catch the offender. I’d say that whether caught on tape or not crimes will happen, and due to the inefficient resolution of the security cameras they are not reliable.

  4. These maps are all trying to point out an increase in public surveillance. There are now more security cameras on our streets than ever before. There are many people who feel that these cameras deter crime, as well as speed up the flow of traffic. The first article uses very confusing statistics to try and prove that the cameras in fact had no decrease in the amount of crime on New York streets. Flusty is saying that our society as a whole is becoming less public. He seems to comment on a recent security frenzy, in which even his own relatives have become a part of. He sees that the increase in public cameras, give too much control to the government. Although they claim to be mainly used for traffic regulation, Flusty says that these cameras could easily be used to see if people are putting their garbage cans out on the wrong day. He also feels that the expansion of public surveillance will unintentionally change the way people go about daily life. He feels that people act differently when they know they are under surveillance, and ultimately these cameras have a negative outcome on society.

    Throughout high school I was a member of the ACLU club. I adamantly spoke out against public surveillance and the government’s infringements on civil liberties. I used to think that public surveillance gives the government too much control, and was fearful that we might turn into a society like Orwell writes about in 1984. It was not until personal experience that I saw the benefit of cameras at intersections. The summer before I went into college I drove 45 minutes to work 5 days a week. I never realized why certain stoplight routes were so much slower than others with the same amount of people driving on them. Then I realized that intersections and routes with cameras or censors attached had the light timing worked out significantly better and were always faster. In addition to this one of my good friends was severely injured by a hit and run driver on an intersection without a camera. Had there been a camera, the perpetrator would have faced jail time for the damage he did to my friend. I don’t feel that cameras should be placed on every city corner, or places without traffic lights. However, traffic cameras make the flow of traffic much better, and provide serious deterrents to hit and run drivers. I feel that cameras should only be used in traffic intersections.

    In terms of a project, I think it would be very interesting to see how public cameras have influenced the crime rate here at SU. There were a number of robberies committed on the SU campus at the beginning of the year, and I think it would be interesting to see if there was any sort of surveillance in the surrounding area. I would want to examine each crime scene, from the past 5 years, and see if there was any surveillance present.

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