#596: Demoscan

As someone who appreciates Orwell as much as I do, I’m often concerned about the number of ‘security’ cameras which scan the public spaces I visit. Actually the number of cameras is not so relevant as who is watching/recording their outputs -and why.

The best security is surely obtained when people don’t have a reason to behave badly. Failing a universal outbreak of fairness and moderation, however, today’s invention is a way to make better use of security camera feeds.

When developing open-source software, many eyes tend to spot problems more easily than a single observer. I therefore advocate making the images from all security cameras publically available.

People who wanted to make a contribution to a nation’s security, at a time of heightened threat, could register, view the faces of a few hundred wanted individuals online and then observe camera images for any evidence of their appearance. This has got to be at least as interesting as existing ‘reality tv shows’ and with a possibly significant payoff.

Each scrutiny session might only be a few minutes long but just the fact that they are potentially being watched, would increase the nervousness of terrorists or criminals. Anyone behaving in a ‘suspicious’ way might cause viewers to press an alert button. The local police would only be notified if more than say 5% of watchers agreed (making it very hard for organised criminals to overload the sytem with bogus alerts).

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