Published in 1948, George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four told the story of a society in which people’s words and actions were constantly monitored by the state. Written as a warning against the repression of totalitarian societies, the scenario seemed very unlikely in mid-Twentieth century Britain. However, by the early Twenty first century at least one of its premises has become reality.
Almost anywhere you go in public today, your actions are likely to be monitored via closed circuit television (CCTV). The use of CCTV in public places has become almost universal, not to mention many private places too. But unlike Orwell’s novel, it is not a case of a totalitarian government seeking to monitor your every word and deed for political control. The use of CCTV by governments is a response to demands to cut rising crime rates. rearview monitor are used chiefly in public places such as railway stations, car parks, in and around public buildings and centres of nightlife and shopping centres. A study in 2011 estimated that there were at least 1.85 million CCTV cameras operating in Britain.24 Of these it was estimated that about 33,000 were operated by local authorities, 115,000 were located on public transport and the rest, at least 1.7 million cameras, were operated privately.
In part the spread of CCTV is a cost-effective method of law enforcement. It is simply too expensive to have police officers patrolling every street corner, but you can set cameras to watch instead. The greatest numbers of rear view mirror for monitor are operated by private security companies. They are to be found in privately owned properties, especially companies trying to protect their property from thieves, vandals and other threats. The advent of face recognition software makes it possible to track individuals efficiently, especially in crowded areas such as railway stations. Technology is also being used to improve road safety. Car drivers today are monitored like never before. Ever since motorcars first appeared, and long before, police have patrolled the roads hunting for criminals and watching traffic violations. Today much of this police work is automated. Instead of patrolling the roads, many police officers now man computers. From the late 1990s, automated digital cameras have been used increasingly for traffic control in many cities. They are used especially for catching drivers who are speeding or failing to stop for red lights at intersections. The justification for their use is that they improve safety. On the other hand, critics argue that, rather than a safety measure, traffic fines have come to be seen as an important source of public revenue.
Consider my morning trip from home to the office. Leaving home, I drive down a hill to the main tollway. From there, my route is tracked by cameras for some 15–20 km. When I reach the grounds of my university, monitor rear view mirror follow my progress into the main car park. They continue to watch as I leave the car park heading for the office. Security cameras on the outside of several buildings record my route and on entering my building, cameras note my every step as I walk through the foyer, head up the stairs and follow the corridor right to my office door. In short, my journey to and from work is monitored the whole way.