Friday, March 12, 2010

Surveillance cameras prove immensely helpful

In an earlier post, I talked about privacy and cameras, specifically pointing to surveys and studies counting the number of cameras on New York City streets. I was shocked to learn that, as of 2005, my particular neighborhood had an estimated 2,227 cameras — up from 142 only seven years earlier.

My first reaction was to consider the privacy violations this could imply. From there, I admitted it's almost ridiculous to assume we have any privacy, other than in our own homes. But what I didn't really explore is how these cameras could be helpful — even pertinent, in some cases.

Today, I read about a prime example of such a case.

Yesterday, I read a Tweet from @DNAinfo about a woman who was brutally beaten in a Midtown bar after refusing a man's advances. I followed the link, read the story and hoped the police would catch her attacker.

Then today, I read more Tweets: This time, they said the man was caught — only because of footage from nearby surveillance cameras.

The New York Daily News reports: "He was seen on a NYPD video as he left the bar, shaking his hand as if in pain. He was later caught on another camera, walking into a bodega, where he grabbed a beer and left without paying. Nearly 600 cameras have been installed throughout the city as part of the NYPD's Operation Argus."

So while there might be some iffy feelings about the NYPD's invasive surveillance, it goes to show there are times when this can really be crucial. DNAinfo, a Manhattan news site, claims the woman, a 29-year-old pediatric nurse, "was beaten so badly her eye socket and nose were broken, requiring surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center."

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