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18 Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 161 (2019)
The Future of CCTV

handle is hein.journals/crpp18 and id is 163 raw text is: 

DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12422                                              CRIMINOLOGY

POLICY ESSAY                                                                 ( Public Policy

The future of CCTV

Wesley G. Skogan

Northwestern University

Wesley G. Skogan, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208.
Email: skogan @northwestem.edu

Eric Piza, Brandon Welsh, David Farrington, and Amanda Thomas (2019, this issue) present an
updated systematic review of the effects of surveillance cameras on crime. The authors document
the growth of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance and note that the presence of cameras has
become part of everyday life. Observing that the effectiveness of these systems as crime prevention
tools was initially accepted without much real analysis, Piza et al. describe the increasing number
and somewhat greater sophistication of evaluations that have since been conducted to document their
capabilities. They conclude with a careful summary of the circumstances under which the adoption of
CCTV seems to yield crime-prevention benefits.
   Only a small section of the Piza et al. (2019) article is focused on the future of CCTV for that lies
beyond its purpose. CCTV's close association with other digital technologies, the explosion in Internet-
connected devices with complementary roles to play in crime prevention, and the rapidly changing tech
world, however, indicates the future of CCTV may be about now, arriving just on the heels of the report
by Piza et al. In this policy essay, I explore the immediate future and discuss an expansion in the scope of
what CCTV looks like, focusing on a shift toward proactivity on the part of increasingly autonomous
cameras; the growing number of license plate readers and linked traffic cameras; and emerging roles
for drone cameras. Further into the future lies the most transformative CCTV technology of them all,
facial recognition. What is stressed throughout is the importance of the increasingly integrated sensing
and information processing network into which they feed, known more generically as the Internet of


One key finding of the Piza et al. (2019) article is that actively managed CCTV systems are more
effective. Passive systems are mainly useful for generating forensic images, one that can be used after
the fact to identify possible offenders and offense details after an incident is reported by the victim
or otherwise comes to light. Actively managed systems, on the other hand, require that someone is
watching. This might be a security guard assigned to a parking lot or a team gathered around a wall
of screens at a centrally managed facility. Employing people to watch screens to mobilize a rapid law-
enforcement response obviously costs a lot more than does passively recording possibly useful images

Criminology & Public Policy. 2019;18:161-166. wileyonlinelibrary.com/jounal/capp  © 2019 American Society of Criminology I 161

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