Camera surveillance OK, says Big Brother

City report ignores Alberta privacy commissioner's concerns

A report to council recommends the city continues, but not expand, its use of public surveillance cameras in Calgary’s downtown.

In 2008, council approved a pilot project in which 16 closed-circuit television (CCTV) wireless cameras were planted in various high-crime hotspots in the downtown core.

According to the report, footage from the CCTV system was examined 93 times in two years, and that public and businesses support their use.

The pilot project cost $500,000 for equipment and $100,000 for operating costs. Expanding the system would require “a significant capital and operating investment” says the report.

Two 2009 surveys conducted by the city found that about half of the respondents believe CCTV “can deter criminal activity” and felt safer in areas where they are used.

However, in July 2010, Alberta’s privacy commissioner Frank Work said declining crime rate statistics should have the public questioning the need for public surveillance cameras.

“If we are frightened by the thought of crime, we are more willing to give up privacy and other civil liberties if we think it will make us safer,” said Work.


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