In our last blog we talked about how municipal governments are increasingly deploying CCTV cameras to help monitor and suppress vandalism and threats to personal security in otherwise quiet towns.
Academic research – as much as resident emotion – can help inform these security decisions governments.
Take the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston as an example.
They’re wrapping up a call for 500 word abstracts for a workshop – to held next June – named Doing Surveillance Studies: Critical Approaches to Methods and Pedagogy.
Quoting from their website, organizers plan to draw on “the best surveillance scholarship available to reflect on how surveillance studies is currently being done and take up the question of what is important in moving forward …. In short, what can we learn, what do we know, what can we teach, and what methods are we drawing on, in doing surveillance studies?”
The workshop runs from May 30th to June 1st, 2013, with selected papers to be published in a special issue of Surveillance & Society.
While it’s unlikely that many municipal governments would have the resources or mandate to draw on exactly this sort of research in deciding which local park should get CCTV cameras, the point is that surveillance research plays an important role in the broader security discussion.
Private sector security professionals should assert a role in that discussion as well, especially given the perspectives with which some of this academic research is being undertaken.
The Surveillance Studies Centre, for example, says it “does not regard surveillance as inherently sinister, but deeply ambiguous and always questionable.”
Fair enough – that’s their prerogative.
But many of us in the industry passionately believe that surveillance is a protector of the public good, not a harbinger of something dark.
So what should the security industry do when it comes to adding balance to the surveillance dialogue?
At Veridin, we would argue there are at least three things we can do collectively:
Advocate, advocate, advocate … Governments making security decisions – and shaping the security dialogue – want to hear from all parties as officials make their decisions. Indeed, work by groups such as the Public Policy Forum show that engagement on a variety of public policy issues in Canada is broadening and deepening. Security professionals should concisely articulate and broadly advocate positions that speak to the public good of surveillance and not to the private benefits.
Be part of the community … The effectiveness of that advocacy is based, to some extent, on the role and profile of those making the case. That means security companies need to be part of their communities – as many are – through charitable giving, volunteering or a host of other community-oriented initiatives. Be seen then be heard, in other words.
Lead by example … Lastly, we need to show that integrity is a hallmark of our industry in the same way that innovation and integration are. Doing the right thing for our customers and for society at large is more important than doing a quick install of yet another camera or proximity reader. And given some understandable questions out there about surveillance, our industry has to reinforce our firm commitment to integrity every day.