news The Queensland Government has unveiled plans to deploy new technology that will allow Brisbane police officers to view live CCTV footage from cameras in public areas on their iPads or smartphones while working their beat, in a move being billed as helping to keep those of the city’s residents ‘who are doing the right thing’ safe.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey announced the planned move in a media release issued this morning, stating that it was part of a $970,000 digital upgrade and expansion of Brisbane City Council’s City Safe CCTV network, to crack down on violence and keep the streets safe.
Dempsey said the new system would also provide valuable evidence for police as the live vision could be recorded at City Safe and used in future court proceedings.
“If trouble-makers think they’re safe because there are no police in sight, they should remember officers could be watching them on their iPad a block away,” Dempsey said. “These upgrades have expanded our reach and everyone needs to remember we’ll be watching. That’s a comfort to the people who do the right thing and a warning to those who don’t.”
Dempsey said the new technology was another example of the Newman Government’s commitment to revitalise frontline services. “We want Queensland to be the safest place to live and raise a family and after years of Labor neglect we have boosted police numbers and resources to help crack down on crime,” the Minister said.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said Council’s network of 73 City Safe cameras enabled early detection and intervention of incidents in the City and Fortitude Valley.
“Council’s nine new camera locations across the City and the Valley will be a great advantage not only for visitors to our shopping and entertainment precincts, but also for local businesses,” Quirk said. “Last financial year City Safe helped police prevent serious assaults on nearly 1,150 occasions and helped identify a further 12,380 incidents. These new cameras will assist in identifying incidents as they occur in more locations across the City.”
“As part of these upgrades City Safe has also entered the digital era with Council migrating its entire City Safe network onto a digital platform to allow for quick and easy access to video footage. As of this week Police are able to access CitySafe cameras via secure Police iPads.”
The City Safe upgrade was delivered by Council with the assistance of a 2013-2014 Local Government grant of $350,000 from the Queensland Government and a $73,000 Australian Government grant in addition to Council’s contribution of $550,000. The Brisbane City Council installed a total of nine extra cameras as part of the expansion, which are all now operational as part of the City Safe network.
The news comes as police forces in other states have also started to further implement CCTV technology. Last week, for example, South Australia’s police force outlined plans to link facial recognition software with the state’s CCTV cameras, in order to automatically recognise persons of interest who passed within the views of cameras.
However, internationally, concerns have begun to be raised about such activities, with many residents believing they have the potential to significantly invade privacy. The City of Oakland, California, for example, recently wound back plans for a mass surveillance system on the city’s streets, following outcry from residents.
Great. Now our privacy is even more dead. If you’re partying in the Brisbane CBD, your nefarious activities are likely being watched — live — by a cadre of iPad-toting police. Did anyone actually stop to ask the residents of sunny Brisbane whether they actually wanted this kind of technology to be deployed on their streets, and whether police should be given such ready access to it? I highly doubt it — just as I suspect most won’t even know it exists until something goes wrong.