Answers Activity 73
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PRESENTER: You may not realise it, but if you left your house to go to work, shopping, or even just for a walk, you've probably been photographed at least fourteen times today. You won't know when or where, of course, because the photographs are taken by surveillance cameras, which are everywhere, and getting more sophisticated all the time. Surveillance expert Linda Goriey is here to tell us something about these intrusive little devices. Linda, why are there so many of these cameras in Britain?
LINDA: The answer is fairly simple, actually - terrorism. Since the sharp increase in the number of terrorist attacks on the British mainland in the Seventies, the authorities have turned to ever more sophisticated technology to keep tabs on possible terrorist venues. The centre of every major city is under twenty-four-hour, year-round surveillance by hundreds of closed-circuit televisions - what we call CCTV.
PRESENTER: Is it only terrorism that they're looking out for?
LINDA: Not any more, no, The technology is now being used in the fight against more run-of-the-mill crimes like burglary, theft and muggings.
PRESENTER: Does it work?
LINDA: It seems to, yes. Figures show that in town centres where CCTV systems have been installed, crime rates have fallen by up to fifty per cent. And now the system is being expanded to cover all major roads in and out of London. They're used in places like railway stations, the top decks of buses, public buildings, even on beaches - there are literally tens of thousands of these cameras in use.
PRESENTER: How helpful are these cameras in actually identifying criminals, though?
LINDA: Quite. Uh, cameras are becoming more effective all the time. The original image of the person's face may not be all that clear, for various reasons — bad quality cameras, poor lighting conditions and overused videotapes, for instance. But now we are using image enhancement techniques which can focus on and clarify details of quite muddy images. These techniques actually came to us from the space programme, and have improved our effectiveness immensely, especially in the matter of identification.
PRESENTER: What other advancements are being made?
LINDA: One great improvement is that the cameras can now be made extremely small, so that, for instance, you could install one in the eye of a shop mannequin to watch out for shoplifters, and it would be completely inconspicuous.
PRESENTER: Isn't there a lot of waste in using these systems, though? I mean, how many criminals - as opposed to law-abiding citizens — do they actually record?
LINDA: More and more, actually - again because of technological advances. Up to now, we've had to wait until a crime was actually committed, and then attempt to identify the criminal through police records. But now surveillance systems are actually able to pinpoint known criminals, stolen cars and so on, and this gives us a huge advantage.
PRESENTER: From a moral point of view, aren't there some real problems here? I've heard that video satellites are being put to use — this means that virtually everyone's movements could be watched at all times. I've also heard about spying in the home, workplace and so on. Doesn't this raise an ethical issue? One could argue that governments, under the pretext of monitoring criminals or terrorists, are actually keeping an eye on lawful citizens.
LINDA: Well, it does have to be used responsibly. There have already been lawsuits in the States, involving illegal uses of this technology, and there is an element of "Big Brother is watching you" about the entire concept. But I do believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages — unless, of course, my boss catches me having a leisurely day out shopping after I've called in sick! That might make me think again.
PRESENTER: Thank you very much, Linda.
The British authorities began to use CCTV...
to identify terrorist attacks on mainland Britain.
to monitor terrorist activity near potential targets.
to observe known terrorists.
to fight crime in cities.
In places where CCTV systems have been installed...
traffic offences have decreased.
crime rates have doubled.
terrorism has been eliminated.
criminal activity has been greatly reduced.
Which of these is not a reason for poor-quality images?
lack of light
badly focused cameras
A camera installed in the eye of a shop mannequin would be...
Why might the use of surveillance cameras be regarded as
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