Surveillance is a hot topic at the moment, and a cause for concern for many. Regardless of this, there are a number of useful ways that surveillance can be applied as an aid to 21st century living. An example of this is the Placemeter, which uses video feeds from across New York City to create an advanced warming system which allows users to find out how busy their destination is in real time.
Able to track people and vehicles, the system is able to predict how many people there will be in a certain location, as well as being able to follow individuals from one place to another — perhaps something not desired by most New Yorkers. In order to successfully cover the whole of NYC, Placemeter would need access to around 3000 cameras, of which currently, it only has access to 500. The company stresses that they are not able to store any data or video on servers after it has been analysed, however, this does not detract from the fact that many will view this as an invasion of privacy.
Despite this, it is clear that businesses will be keen to use this information, with Placemeter already providing low resolution pedestrian counts for New York City’s new Business Atlas, an interactive map that is updated monthly and allows businesses to plan their marketing strategies better. Although it is apparent that there is some benefits to this system, it could be suggested however, that from public opinion, the negatives of such intensive surveillance, far outweigh the positives. Is this what the ‘Smart City’ is supposed to be?