Video surveillance cameras and systems, commonly referred to as Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) despite their increasingly networked character, are a defining feature of modern society. Their widespread use, as fixed or mobile devices, deployed for a range of purposes and by a variety of public and private actors, is now unsurprising and generally accepted in most countries. The normality of these surveillance practices, and the technologies used, are a world away from the early tube cameras used for local broadcasting and the isolated monitoring of industrial processing in the 1930s and 1940s. The diffusion processes, which have led to the exponential growth of these cameras and systems, have included evolutions in the design, function and capabilities of systems, especially around opportunities for extended, combined and automated systems offered by new information and communication technologies. These technologies have been shaped by a raft of interested parties, including engineers, manufacturers, clients/service users, politicians and regulators. The changing and contested terminology used to denote and describe the socio-technical practices around these systems illustrates both the variety of applications and their wider social and political context. ‘Video surveillance’, ‘video observation’, ‘video protection’ and ‘visual surveillance’ share the semantic reference to viewing and imply monitoring rooted in the technological practices of optoelectronics, but they convey different meanings about the benefits and uses of technology. In the same way, terms like ‘spy cameras’, ‘big brother cameras’, ‘security cameras’ and ‘public safety cameras’ convey different meanings and different perceived ‘impacts’. An example of the political significance of language and terminology is provided by the French Government, which decided to replace the term ‘video surveillance’ with ‘video protection’ in all legal texts and regulations in an attempt to influence the perceived societal meaning of these systems (see the chapter by Heilmann). In contrast, the German Federal Data Protection Act aims to frame the phenomenon as neutrally and comprehensively as possible, and relevant Section 6b of the Act regulates the ‘observation of publicly accessible premises by optic-electronic devices’.
Broader academic interest in video surveillance followed the proliferation of CCTV cameras and practices in a wide range of public and private settings in the mid-to-late 1990s. The most rapid and spectacular diffusion of public space CCTV is often attributed to the United Kingdom, where the installation of new camera schemes was supported by central government funds and operational advice, as well as political rhetoric to assist in the ‘fight against crime’ . However, around the same time public CCTV schemes were also launched in other European countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and France, usually without any reference to the British experience. Thus, the time was ripe for CCTV to be discussed at a European level. Seeking guidance for an ongoing national debate about the pros and cons of public area CCTV, the Dutch Presidency of the European Union put the issue on top of the agenda of a major EU crime prevention conference held in Noordwijk in November 1997. The conference concluded: ‘Cameras as crime prevention tools are in general new and cost-effective ways to offer reassurance to citizens as to their safety. ‘Cameras should be part of a comprehensive local and/or national crime prevention policy. Ideally, they should be monitored by trained personnel and the public should be aware of their use. Privacy should be safeguarded’ [10: 66]. In the wake of this event, higher ranks of the police entered into a more systematic knowledge exchange in the emerging arena of European police co-operation that facilitated the cross-national transfer of CCTV as crime prevention policy . At once, voices resisting the spread of surveillance and pushing for regulation increasingly articulated their concerns at the national and the European level. A 1998 report to the European Parliament on ‘Technologies of Political Control’ recommended that CCTV systems in the Union should be subject to a common and consistent set of codes of practice [13: 17], and on 7 September 2001 grass-roots privacy advocates coordinated a first ‘International Day of Action Against Video Surveillance’ in seven countries of the global North. When it became necessary to upgrade existing privacy legislation due to the implementation of the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46 in the late 1990s, policy makers in several EU member states used the opportunity explicitly to regulate video surveillance. In further attempts to harmonise the processing of personal data by controllers of CCTV cameras, both the Council of Europe and the EU's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party drafted guidelines how to apply existing European legislation, albeit with questionable success.
Public agencies had previously encouraged the provision of CCTV in a range of discrete settings, including banks, car parks and motorways. But it was the widespread and permanent deployment of these systems in public places, including residential areas, and where ordinary citizens and service users routinely came under surveillance by the state, that also generated so much academic interest. The British experience, which signalled the ‘surveillance camera revolution’, has been portrayed as the farthest reaching example in terms of CCTV development, and has become the point of reference for studying video surveillance in the social sciences and other disciplines. The academic studies and discourses that have sought to comprehend this ‘revolution’ have been dominated by perspectives emanating from law, criminology, sociology and geography. Legal scholars have discussed novel regulatory approaches designed to address issues relating to privacy and data protection . Criminologists have sought to understand the effects of CCTV on crime, the perceptions of crime and on disorder, anti-social and other behaviour deemed undesirable [4,12]. Sociologists have located the rise of public space CCTV in wider global trends and the emergence of late capitalism, in which the shift from industrial societies struggling with the distribution of the fruits of technological progress to societies mainly concerned with services and the calculation and management of risks has led to a new context and the rise of a ‘new penology’, including techniques for crime prevention such as CCTV . Geographers and urban scholars have pointed to the economic transformation of cities and towns and the emergence of ‘urban entrepreneurialism’ as the driving force behind attempts to promote central areas as places of consumption [2,5,8]. These were to be rendered safe and attractive for customers by means of surveillance cameras directed against any nuisance, including ‘undesirable’ persons and behaviour. Alongside the grand narratives about surveillance in society has been a burgeoning of descriptive studies of specific cases. Typically, these are intended to highlight the use of CCTV in a specific setting or to calculate a systems ‘impact’ on levels of crime and disorder. Additionally, there has been a series of ethnographic studies where the users and the subjects of surveillance have been observed and asked about their experiences and attitudes. Although often descriptive, these micro-studies have started to show the significance of context and the institutional settings in which cameras are deployed, as well as their importance as explanatory factors in how video surveillance works, how it is used, and how it is integrated into the broader polity.
In relation to video surveillance, issues of governance and public policy are rarely explicitly addressed by social scientists. This book aims to fill this gap. It brings into focus the ways in which the implementation of cameras and systems, and their operational and technical features, are the product of decisions and policies made in a variety of contexts and by a variety of authorities and interested parties. This perspective suggests that the surveillance camera revolution must not be understood as just a technological phenomenon, and that the context in which the cameras are deployed shapes their diffusion and use. If we follow this line of argument, it is easier to understand why one country may encourage the use of surveillance cameras, but for historical and cultural reasons, another may choose to limit their use. Equally, one country may have a strong tradition of legislation and regulation, whilst another may lean towards voluntary or self-regulation. Understanding the contextual environment surrounding the deployment of video cameras, including public attitudes toward surveillance, mass-media representations of the systems, and beliefs about the capabilities of technology, is critical to under-standing why video surveillance cameras have diffused so widely in society, and how they are currently used. With this in mind, this book aims to revisit video surveillance by presenting some contemporary thinking and research on the use of CCTV, and by drawing out issues relating to governance and public policy.
The use of video surveillance cameras and systems in public places in modern society raises a range of government and public policy issues both in terms of the regulation of new technologies and also in terms of relations between citizens and the state. The deployment of these systems is naturally of interest to governments because they are concerned with influencing, or controlling, the behaviour of citizens. As such, surveillance cameras embody a power relationship between the surveyor and the surveyed. Because surveillance cameras are intrinsically powerful, their use by public agencies for the ‘public interest’ is often perceived only to be acceptable when subject to democratic and regulatory control. In Switzerland, for example, recent police CCTV projects, in St. Gallen, Lucerne and Renens, have been subject to a public vote, thereby increasing opportunities for democratic debate and scrutiny. In this case, public participation in the decision-making processes has contributed to further legitimise and publicise the deployed systems. If we take a governance or public-policy perspective of the widespread diffusion of surveillance cameras, then issues about who shapes the public policy-making process, who benefits from diffusion, and how the cameras are used and regulated, come to the fore. What has been remarkable about the surveillance camera revolution is not just the speed of diffusion, but also that this diffusion has taken place alongside concerns about citizen-state relations, the impact of mass surveillance on the behaviour of the users and the subjects of surveillance, the erosion of privacy, and the perceived threat to civil liberties and human rights. Despite these concerns, and others that relate to the efficacy and financial implications of mass video surveillance, surveillance cameras and systems enjoy a high degree of popularity amongst politicians, practitioners and the general public. Today, the presence of surveillance cameras and systems in many countries is taken for granted and their existence no longer feels ‘revolutionary’ – they are just a normal part of everyday life. However, many of the concerns raised at the start of the revolution remain unanswered and are as pertinent today as they were in the 1990s.
This book places particular emphasis on studies of video surveillance in different national, institutional, cultural and linguistic settings, as they relate to the provision of these systems in public service and democratic contexts. Part One comprises theoretically informed contributions from a variety of academic disciplines; Part Two presents more descriptive case studies from a variety of settings, illustrating important points even within these empirical constraints. Whilst current academic debates on CCTV are heavily influenced by Anglophone literatures and examples, one of the central aims of this book is to bring together a more international collection of authors and studies in order to help elucidate specific national and institutional characteristics, and to highlight broader cross-cultural trends in current CCTV developments and policies. Whilst many previous studies lack appreciation of how specific circumstances and contexts act as catalysts in shaping, accelerating and exemplifying novel trends and solutions in surveillance matters, we hope to develop a more solid, empirically informed understanding of the position and role of video surveillance in modern society, and of its governance and public policy dimensions.
The Chapters in Part One
In her chapter, Emmeline Taylor examines the use of video surveillance cameras in the setting of schools in England. Through new empirical research, she explores the experiences of CCTV amongst teachers and pupils, and demonstrates how schools have become some of the most surveillance-intensive environments in modern society. There are important issues in this environment for surveillance, about the policy processes which have led to so much surveillance in this setting, the governance of CCTV in school settings, and the long-term implications of exposing children to such intensive surveillance practices. Gemma Galdon Clavell next explores the diffusion of CCTV in a specific region of Spain: Catalonia. The main thrust of her argument is that the specific context of Catalonian institutions and decision-making structures has shaped the provision of CCTV locally, and that common assumptions about national governments shaping CCTV diffusion are not borne out in Spain. In this respect, she asks us to ‘zoom in’ and pay attention to local decision-makers, politicians and service providers as they influence the diffusion process as well.
The evolution of the technological capabilities of surveillance systems, especially in relation to the need to interpret video images quickly and accurately, is examined by Christoph Musik. He analyses two contexts in detail: ‘facial expression recognition’ and ‘automated multi-camera event recognition for the prevention of bank robberies’, demonstrating how the computerisation of video surveillance is leading to a second generation of intelligent systems. As Musik notes, ‘the thinking eye is only half the story’; such developments raise issues about the design of these systems and who shapes their intelligence, and consequently their use. Following this, Fredrika Björklund utilises analytical approaches emerging from ‘governmentality’ perspectives to analyse critically the diffusion of video surveillance cameras in Sweden. Emphasising situational prevention, the generalisation of distrust and the informed citizen, her claim is that Swedish society is undergoing an evolution that involves the blurring of traditional institutions and practices, and new ways of governing shaped by global pressures and technologies such as video surveillance cameras. ‘Pure flour in your bag’ refers to an argument brought forward by those who advocate video surveillance, and refers to those citizens who are ‘whiter than white’ and are said to have nothing to fear from surveillance cameras.
Two further chapters highlighting theoretical perspectives round off this section of the book. Both of these chapters develop an elaborate problematic related to issues of governance and public policy in the field of CCTV surveillance. The first one, by Pieter Wagenaar and Kees Boersma, provides a strongly ethnographic account of surveillance strategies and practices in the securitisation of Schiphol International Airport. Anchored in, and testifying to, the now well-established tradition of ethnographic control-room research, the approach pursued here focuses on the micro level, locating the various policy issues surrounding CCTV in the context of a specific range of control practices and issues in a particular geographical locale. Yet the aim is not only to provide isolated insights into the micro-politics of security and surveillance in the Schiphol context, but also to re-position this question as part of a broader set of issues: how exactly does CCTV surveillance permeate particular places and moments? How and by whom are the aims of CCTV negotiated and defined? How do these then legitimise particular interventions? Pete Fussey's chapter is driven by a concern to understand the forces, processes and mechanisms shaping the contemporary intensification and extension of surveillance infrastructures in East London, the location of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Exploring the role of this large-scale event in facilitating and promoting the installation of novel CCTV systems in East London, Fussey points up the importance of circumstances and contexts in the formation of surveillance practices and rationales, thus bringing to the fore some of the main driving forces underpinning contemporary CCTV policies.
The Chapters in Part Two
Five case studies make up the second section of the book. These are shorter pieces, rather less theoretical and a little more descriptive, but which nevertheless offer important insights for the governance of video surveillance cameras. In the first case study, Eric Heilmann presents a historical account of the introduction and use of video surveillance cameras in France, with specific reference to the introduction of regulatory and legislative arrangements. He highlights the traditional tension between central and local government, how this has influenced the provision of these systems, and the significance of political rhetoric for the continuing installation and operation of video surveillance cameras. The essence of Heilmann's argument is that France has changed from a country that resisted video surveillance to a country where it is widely accepted. Chiara Fonio next analyses the diffusion of video surveillance in Italy with specific reference to the legislative framework and political processes. In particular, she points to discrepancies in regulatory requirements and the practices associated with video surveillance and the lack of a solid evidence base influencing the use of these technologies. For Fonio, the silence surrounding the growth of video surveillance in Italy relates to a lack of public debate and an apparent unwillingness to evaluate robustly the use and impacts of these technologies.
The remaining chapters further develop and illustrate the conceptual and analytical challenges raised earlier in the book. Ola Svenonius investigates the organisational changes induced by a EUR 55m project in public transport security in Stockholm, including the installation of more than 20,000 additional high-tech cameras. The chapter argues that ‘the Project’ produced very complex and contradictory effects with regard to the organisational structure in the policing of public transport in Stockholm. This led to increased privatisation and centralisation of decision making, whilst also maintaining and, in some sense, even reinforcing the chaotic diversity of the involved actors, interests and sources of authority. The chapter also elucidates two further implications of the Project: first, the induced shift in the approach taken towards transport security, from a focus on recorded crime-rates to passenger perceptions of risk and insecurity; and, second, the development of a more coherent normative framework underpinning and bringing together the actor-network involved in the control and securitisation of the Stockholm public transport system. The troubled story of CCTV in central Hamburg, where five cameras were installed in 2007 on a small plaza only to be taken down again two years later, is described by Nils Zurawski. Providing a focused discussion of the policy-makers involved, their mutually intertwined interests and positions, as well as the larger debates at the time, the case exemplifies the interpretative flexibility of CCTV systems as a vehicle for different actors with different agendas and arguments. This shows that CCTV cannot be reduced to a single meaning assigned by a single actor, but must be understood as the expression of processes involving a range of actors, guided by common goals, acting from mutually enhanced positions and driven by converging benefits, whilst also pursuing their own specific agendas and projects. In Hamburg, the latter aimed at urban regeneration and crime prevention.
The final case study, by Gemma Galdon Clavell, Lohitzune Zuloaga Lojo and Armando Romero, offers a ‘country report’ of CCTV in Spain, including the relevant legal framework, public perceptions of CCTV, and related policy debates. In providing this account, the chapter also touches on at least two broader, yet fundamentally interrelated issues. First, it is concerned with urban policy mobilities in security and surveillance matters – namely, the transnational circulation and reproduction of best practices in the field CCTV surveillance – and, second, it addresses the question of how specific national political traditions and memories (for example the memory of Franco's authoritarianism) shape contemporary trends in surveillance matters. Both questions are of fundamental importance if we are to understand not only the transnational commonalities, but also the remaining national and local specificities in contemporary CCTV policies.
Crosscutting Themes and Issues
What are the themes and issues that emerge from these chapters to guide our thinking and future research? Of course, the specific insights gained might differ in other national and local contexts, depending on the precise circumstances of each system. Interactions and relationships may vary across cases and settings in terms of the actors, strategies, interests, instruments, stipulations and regulatory mechanisms involved. Indeed, a central challenge for future research will be to undertake further comparative empirical investigations into the ways in which different video surveillance projects, in different cultural contexts, both resemble and differ from each other. However, the contributions in this collection also raise a series of more general, cross-cutting themes and issues that are worth highlighting. These can be organised under three broad headings, as outlined below.
Fragmentation of Authority and Interacting Forms of Expertise in CCTV Policies
On different conceptually and empirically informed grounds, the contributions to this book reiterate the need for the conceptualisation of CCTV surveillance to be constantly ‘in the making’, i.e., to consist of myriad micro-scale negotiations and decisions between various actors whose positions are defined by intertwined domains of expertise and forms of authority [1, 7]. The book thus provides much-needed accounts of both the fundamentally dynamic nature of surveillance – as a policy process rather than as a definitive and static policy result – and of the fragmentation of authority, processes of shaping, and development through a trajectory of planning, installation, and use of CCTV systems.
Following on from this, one of the key issues relates to the role and importance of private actors and expertise – especially the technical know-how provided by technology companies – in contemporary security governance, as Svenonius' study of Stockholm shows. Looking at current trends towards the ever-more complex assemblage of various forms and functions of surveillance, there is good reason to assume that the technical expertise of private companies is likely to become even more important in future years. This trend is particularly driven by rapid technological progress, which enables not only the growing combination and integration of various semi-co-ordinated, heterogeneous forms and functions of surveillance, but also the increased automation of ‘intelligent’ monitoring techniques, capable of identifying pre-programmed ‘risk behaviour’ or previously identified ‘risk persons’. Increasingly, we can observe this emergence of ‘smart’ CCTV systems. Typically they combine the optical technologies usually associated with CCTV systems with the processing capabilities of modern computers, thus effecting a convergence of information and communication technologies, allowing visual images to be cross-referenced with computer databases and other software. For example, digital-image software can be combined with databases to achieve facial recognition or number-plate recognition. Computer algorithms can be utilised to assess current behaviour and to predict future behaviour, for example via crowd-analysis software or infra-red movement and noise-detection systems. CCTV systems can be combined with other new technologies, including listening and speaker systems, metal detectors and sniffing devices, geo-location technologies and Geographic Information Systems. At a more basic level, the technical standardisation and networking of systems permits the integration and convergence of systems. Most of these technical developments are being pioneered by private companies and the security industry. It is therefore of major importance to investigate further the wider socio-political effects of the largely unquestioned public-private interdependences in contemporary security governance, and to reflect critically upon the potential impacts of business interests in security and surveillance matters on the everyday life of citizens and social groups.
Drivers of CCTV
Second, and following directly from the previous point, this book shows that CCTV surveillance responds to a range of different goals, benefits, agendas and projects. CCTV is the product of relationships that are mediated by various resonating or conflicting interests, motivations and needs. This of course also means that the aims and modalities of CCTV surveillance, as they are negotiated and defined by the actors involved, are not pre-determined or value-free, but are shaped by complex relationships and interactions that rely on various drivers and impulses.
Wagenaar and Boersma's study of Schiphol addresses this problematic on a micro-scale, contributing in empirical depth to our understanding of the ways in which the practices of CCTV surveillance merge within a particular milieu, and of the ramifications of this. Zurawski's work in Hamburg also testifies to this issue. There are at least two key points to highlight. First, the blurring and shifting lines of argumentation in the political debates and decisions affecting the Hamburg CCTV project illustrate that, in conceptualising CCTV's driving forces, we need to recognise not only the overlapping coalitions of interest in contemporary security governance, but also the multiple tensions and conflicts arising from the ways in which specific systems are framed, approached and exploited for particular needs. Second, with regard to these tensions and conflicts, this case study also reveals the weight of non-professional and non-political players – local community groups, academic experts, individual opponents, shopkeepers, etc. – in CCTV-related debates. In sum, the role of civil society should not be underplayed or forgotten completely in accounting for the policy processes and decisions concerning CCTV. The drivers of CCTV surveillance must be related not only to specific needs and interests, but also understood as a function of socially available and normatively loaded ‘imaginaries of surveillance’.
Commonalities and Specificities in Contemporary CCTV Policies
The third cross-cutting theme overlaps with the book's overall ambition to elucidate different national and institutional characteristics, whilst also identifying broader transnational trends in current CCTV developments. Drawing upon the chapters in this collection, there are a number of specific points to highlight. For example, the case study by Galdon Clavell et al. underlines not only the impact of Spain's political past on current CCTV developments – i.e., national specificities – but also the country's current predisposition to learn from international experience and best practice, thus pointing up the relevance of transnational commonalities and processes of policy transfer. We must take into account both the contemporary and the historical background in a given socio-political context if we are to understand the converging and diverging national dynamics unfolding in the field of CCTV surveillance. In a different way, the chapters by Wagenaar and Boersma, and by Fussey, address the same problematic. More generally, security and surveillance at large sporting events and in the aviation sector are usefully approached from two complementary perspectives, as both the product of and as the producer of a broader set of developments in contemporary security governance. On the one hand, airports and ‘mega’ events are portrayed as being firmly embedded in transnational circuits of imitation and institutional learning. On the other hand, airports and large events are themselves understood as laboratories for testing and developing novel surveillance solutions that are subsequently adapted for more normalised use. From both directions, airports and large events can be understood as strategic examples for studying the current dynamics and global re-calibrations of security governance.
Here we encounter an important issue of scale and context, one which we believe should be further pursued in future empirical investigations into the commonalities and specificities of contemporary CCTV projects and debates. Relevant questions to address are: how do specific places and times act as laboratories in the production of novel trends in CCTV surveillance? What kind of mechanisms, and what types of public and private interests, are mediating these ‘exemplification’ processes – trivialisation and normalisation – of surveillance? How, in turn, do specific forms of expertise and bodies of knowledge relating to CCTV become authorised to act in specific places and at specific moments? What are the resonances and dissonances between globally established ‘CCTV solutions’ and locally anchored surveillance practices as they are negotiated in situ?
Self-evidently, this book makes no claim fully to answer these questions. From different conceptual and empirical angles, our ambition has been to bring to the fore some of the key aspects and issues accounting for the international diversity and complexity of CCTV as it is practiced, understood, debated and studied. As such, the entire collection is also intended as an invitation for further research into the current and future politics and practices of video surveillance.
Finally, we would like to thank the ‘supporting cast’ who have allowed us to bring this book to fruition. Firstly, thanks are due to John Taylor, the Editor-in-Chief of Information Polity, for the opportunity to dedicate a double Special Issue (Vol. 16, No. 4, 2011 and Vol. 17, No. 1, 2012), to the topic of video surveillance. This book has emerged from those edited collections. This has been a very timely exercise, one that has drawn together a variety of contemporary thinking on this topic. We would also like to thank the team at IOS Press for their support and patience whilst the bringing the present book into existence. We are particularly grateful to all those anonymous reviewers who gave their time to undertake the crucial role of peer review, and to Joy Charnley, who completed the translation, from French into English, of Eric Heilmann's case study. Finally, special thanks are due to all the authors who have contributed so many thought-provoking pieces on this topic area. Combined, they represent an impressive collection of contemporary theoretical and empirical work taking different perspectives on the surveillance camera revolution.
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