Most people know that CCTV cameras are increasingly common in big cities. They’ve been a staple in Britain for years, and London in particular. Estimates suggest that there are at least 1.9 million CCTV cameras in that country – or one for every 32 people in the UK.
Here at home in Toronto, CCTV cameras are prevalent in downtown buildings, on street corners and in buses.
Now it seems these cameras are moving out to the suburbs at the behest of municipal governments increasingly concerned about personal security and vandalism.
Take Vaughan, Ontario for example. An affluent, fast-growing municipality north of Toronto, Vaughan is a family-friendly municipality.
But it also has a noise and vandalism problem, as highlighted by a recent article last week in the Vaughan Citizen.
According to the article, late-night partying in a local park, with young men drinking, smoking and intimidating local residents, had become a significant neighbourhood issue. Following complaints, police increased their patrolling and installed four CCTV cameras hooked up to a monitoring system at city hall.
“I was really surprised that we got four cameras in there and I’m really happy we did because that’s going to be helpful,” Maple/Kleinburg Councillor Marilyn Iafrate was quoted as saying by The Citizen. “Now it’s up to them (the residents), if they see activity all they have to do is let us know and we’ve got the footage to review or forward on to York Regional Police, if we require.”
Meanwhile, the town of Oakville, 35kms west of Toronto, is also looking into the possibility of installing CCTV cameras in the downtown core.
Oakville Town Council recently asked staff to prepare a report on the issue. There are some concerns about disturbances to downtown businesses and residences, leading local councilors to request that the study be done in consultation with Halton Police.
Decisions to install CCTV cameras are based on more than the emotions of local residents, though of course those are influential factors. Municipal staff also rely on research to help determine best practices when it comes to installing surveillance equipment in public spaces.
In our next blog we’ll look at the important roles played by the private sector when it comes to researching surveillance.