January 19, 2004
You, just you

Sorry it’s been a while since my last update - but you won’t believe what trouble I’ve had with my new laptop. That coupled with the fact that work has involved me “burning the midnight oil” as they say, has meant that it’s been real hard getting back into the routine of posting here in a timely fashion. Hopefully things will be back to banal normality! :-)

Anyway - some discussion (kicked off by Sathish) in the comments to my last posting stimulated me to go out and capture some images with my new camera: funnily enough - images of the CCTV camera culture that seems to dominate our daily lives here in London. Click on the green button in the Shockwave Flash image below to load up some great pics of CCTV situations along my beloved Route79 - with a musical accompaniment of a track called “Tum Bas Tum” by Shibani Kashyap from the soundtrack to the film Waisa Bhi Hota Hai: Part II . What a fabulous, sultry, sassy voice this singer has! (Thanks to Shobha for pointing me in the direction of this interesting selection of filmi music.)

Route 79 CCTV Culture - Turn up volume and enjoy the audio/video photo montage!

Posted by jag at January 19, 2004 10:31 PM

Neat! Now I have actually started looking out for cameras so I even noticed a black fish eye on a beam just above us way high up in the stands when we were watching the Aus vs India ODI at The Gabba on Sunday…observing crowd behaviour,the beer drinking and all that! I counted three in our stand within view.

Posted by: Ritu on January 19, 2004 11:23 PM

Many interesting pictures up here. (For the first time, I actually downloaded the 2 MB slideshow; I usually shy away to download anything that is larger than 1 MB). Many interesting points to note.
What are the agencies that place, monitor and review the images/videos/information from the security cameras? I am sure that the Police will use it, but which is the main monitoring agency?
Why are there two security cameras at many places? Are they placed by two different agencies?
If they have so many CCTV’s, how will they be able to monitor the tons of informations that is streaming to them every second - even a 1000 cameras is a lot of things to monitor..?
And does every bus and train have security cameras - then London security agencies do call all the shots in implementing safety and security.
And wont you be sued for revealing the locations of CCTV cameras to everybody?
P.C. : The Route 79 bus looks snazzy.
P.C.C : You could have added a previous button on the slideshow too.

Posted by: sat on January 20, 2004 06:08 AM

Ritu: yes - if you look for them - you’ll find them everywhere!

Sat: The “Police” cameras in the street (like some of the ones in the pictures) are controlled and managed by the Police themselves. They are the most powerful cameras - they are able to rotate and zoom by remote control. These cameras are linked through to local police control rooms - where there are police staff who do the monitoring/recording and provide navigation assistance to police officers on patrol in the streets. So - there is no central government monitoring agency as such. To get a glimpse of the sort of setup in the control centres - go to the following page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1501533.stm

The cameras in private places - e.g. in shops - or outside shops and business premises are usually linked through to the the security office at the premises - e.g. in the reception or in a back-room where the images can be monitored and recorded. Many small businesses cannot afford to employ dedicated security guards - so there are some commercial companies that provide remote monitoring services. For example - there is a company called ADT here in UK which is very popular for burglar alarms - and they also provide a remote monitoring service: http://www.adt.co.uk/prod_remote_cctv.htm - one of the cameras above the Indian sweet/savoury shop had what appeared to be an ADT remotely monitored camera - you can see the ADT logo on the camera. The reason why that shop probably has two cameras is because one of them is probably the original camera that the owners installed as a DIY thing - and is probably linking to a screen inside the shop - and the other one is the ADT remotely monitored service solution.

The two-camera arrangements that you see on the tube station platforms or entrance/exit corridors are probably a) pointing in different directions or b) are probably focussed permanently on two different distances. I think this is the case for the ones at the front of the tube station platform - like the one in the picture where the tube train is pulling off: the two cameras are probably set up so that one of them is focussed on the front half of the train - and the other one is focussed on the second half of the train further back. That way the driver in his cabin can see the whole length of the train so that he/she knows when to close the doors of the train and/or pull off safely. So I think these cameras are for safety rather than crime-prevention.

So - in answer to your question - there is no single agency monitoring the thosands of cameras - the load is spread amongst police forces, commercial monitoring agencies, security guards, receptionists and business-owners themselves.

Yes - practically every new (or newly refurbished) train or bus has got CCTV cameras installed on them. The Route 79 buses for example are almost brand new (a whole new fleet of double-deckers were introduced last year) - and not only has each bus got 4 security cameras - two on bottom deck - two on top. There is a “door” camera that the driver uses to monitor the exit door so that he/she knows when it’s safe to close the doors.

Will I get sued for revealing the locations of the cameras? That made me laugh! Absolurely not - for one thing - there is no law prohibiting me from taking photographs of objects in public places. And secondly - the cameras themselves are very visible - and deliberately so - they are a very effective deterrent. That’s why they look menacing and there are signs everywhere warning that there are other eyes watching you. The ones that are in the shopping centres are a little more discreet - but that’s more to do with not looking ugly - i.e. blending in with the decoration etc. - but the owner of the cams sure does want you to know that they are there - as this is the deterrent - and it also makes people feel “safe”.

Thanks for the feedback re the Flash - I was in a hurry when I put it together - so I agree I didn’t make it very user friendly. Also, the picture on the bus was taken on the top deck - I never think of the bus as snazzy but I guess it must be to do with the fact that the buses are fairly new.

Posted by: Jag on January 20, 2004 10:44 AM

I am digging your multimedia work. Good stuff.

Posted by: Gus on January 20, 2004 12:50 PM

Thanx for the information, man.
Good work - Any other cities of the world with this much CCTV penetration?

Posted by: sat on January 21, 2004 10:26 AM
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