Street art puts lens on surveillance

Street art puts lens on surveillance

Summary: Today three University of Technology students took to Sydney streets and built art installations at the base of CCTV cameras to increase public awareness about government surveillance of citizens.

TOPICS: Security, Privacy

Today three University of Technology students took to Sydney streets and built art installations at the base of CCTV cameras to increase public awareness about government surveillance of citizens.

UTS students as part of an art installation

Ano, left, and Muscardo are part of their art installation on Sydney's George Street. (Credit: Darren Pauli/ZDNet Australia)

Video surveillance is an integral part of government efforts to secure public spaces. Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are growing in number and are becoming more powerful, thanks to higher resolutions and technology developments that allow advanced biometric controls such as facial and behavioural recognition to run behind the systems.

But not everyone is aware of the capabilities or prevalence of surveillance, a fact that has made many privacy advocates jittery.

It is this lack of knowledge that UTS students Audrey Ano, Claudia Muscardo and Stephanie Shehata have attempted to address. They have spread bubble wrap and tape bearing the word "caution" around CCTV cameras in Sydney's CBD.

The installations are part of a project for their interior design course, dubbed "beauty and the beast". They chose the surveillance system to represent the "beast".

"We want the public to be informed about the surveillance in operation," Muscardo said.

Topics: Security, Privacy

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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  • Dear conspiracy theorist,

    It must be nice to think the world revolves around yourself. As the most important entity in the universe, it is only natural to assume that "they" are tracking every move you make. Being uninformed, I would think that the sheer volumne of data produced by such activity would make it physically impossible to manage for any sizable population but of course this ignores the alien technology that "they" are keeping hidden from us.

    All the best, see you on the other side!
  • xBeanie, given any infinite surface, each of us *is* exactly in the middle of things.
    But (mathematical jokes aside) think of the other side of your argument - if surveillance is increasing, and the amount of information gathered is beyond the abilities of a limited number of people observing the results of all this imaging, then it follows that an increasingly large percentage of surveillance will be managed entirely by machines. Is that a good outcome?
  • The problem with this monitoring is that it is becoming all pervasive and technologies are being developed to better utilise the data gathered. To what end is this information being used? No-one really knows, but plenty are developing new ways to exploit it. How can we ensure that data gathered about ourselves is not being misused?

    Today the government can do it for good or bad, which is it? We don't know because it's kept from us.

    Tomorrow corporations will use it, and we've all seen how many will happily exploit the technology for the benefit of their shareholders and CEO bonuses.

    If the technology assists in reducing real crime, as opposed to Joe average being nabbed for trivial offences, then all is fine. However, as the technology improves this starts to swing to a model where every offence can be automatically prosecuted without any 'reasonable person' discretion. What a good revenue stream that is...and true justice goes out the window.

    Then there is the argument that if 99% of people are basically doing the right thing why introduce all pervasive monitoring? Financially, that is a horrible ROI (until you factor in automatic punitive fines).

    How long is it until we're banned from taking steps to hide our identity when in public?

    Putting all arguments aside, there really is only one question: If most of us are doing the right thing then why is the government investing so much into pervasive monitoring? Conspiracy or not, it doesn't make sense.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • As someone who manages one of these CCTV systems, I can tell you I don't give a toss what the most of you are doing, it is the fighting, stealing and other crime activity that we react to. If you where to be mugged for your shoes, the first thing you want is someone to be charged, and if there wasn't a camera there to capture the offence, why the hell not, I pay taxes, I should be protected. If you where king hit from behind while walking down a street, of course you would want the offender to be charged. Without access to camera footage, police would not be able to get a realistic picture of what happened and possibly identify the offender. Police don't have the resources to do the good ole fashioned police work they used to be able to do.
    The data is kept for only a relatively short amount of time to allow investigations to be conducted and then it is overwritten. Cameras don't capture everything and they are not exactly seen as a preventative measure anymore. They are a tool. A tool used to investigate crimes after the fact.
  • "As someone who manages one of these CCTV systems, I can tell you I don't give a toss what the most of you are doing, it is the fighting, stealing and other crime activity, [like watching that chick with the Double-D rack who's trying on sweaters] that we react to. "

    Or what about the person beaten to a pulp on Newtown Rail station, and the camera was "conveniently not working" [probably distracted by another set of Double-Ds]? It didn't help him while he was in hospital for three weeks with neural damage.

    There are too many instances of misuse of these systems for any member of the public to actually feel safe.
  • @ gcray

    When you are born, you are registered as a company (country) product via the birth certificate. The company (country) then floats a bond against your birth certificate and approaches the World Bank to take out a loan against the tax payments that you will be making throughout your life. This is what you "pay taxes" for.

    A camera cannot protect you ... unless you use it as a weapon to defend yourself with. All you are doing is trading off your privacy for the fallacy that somehow you will be safer ... you won't.

    I spent 2 years in the NSW police, and I'll state emphatically, it isn't 'designed' for you to be "protected" ... it's 'designed' to prosecute you. It's part of the maritime/commercial law system, of which legalese is the language, and your ignorance is no defence in a court of law.

    I am not a 'Person', are you?

    BTW - you can check out the Securities & Exchange Commission for the company listing of the Commonwealth of Australia ...

    CIK (0000805157)
    SIC: 8880 - American Depositary Receipts
    State location: DC | Fiscal Year End: 0630

    Business Address