What’s the sign going to do?

One of the perks of the job I have is that they pay for either my parking downtown, or they pay for me to use one of the various Park & Rides provided by our local transit authority. My commute is significant, so letting someone else drive through the bad traffic makes that little part of my life less stressful.  This morning I rode into downtown on a brand new bus (it still had that new car smell) and I noticed something.

Towards the front of the bus there were some signage stickers. Some of them were fairly benign, no food, no smoking, no loud music. Basically things for the comfort of other passengers. Some signs telling the passengers not to molest the bus driver, stay behind the yellow line while the bus is in motion, etc. These are things you would expect, and they make sense


The bus driver doesn’t need to be distracted by some passenger telling them about the latest viral video, not every passenger wants to hear the latest hit song at full blast 177 times in a row, and so on.  One of those signs struck me as odd though. This bus was brand new, and had some new features, like some power outlets between the seats. One of the new features was video cameras, so there was a new sign sticker at the front of the bus.



It wasn’t exactly like the one above (I didn’t think to get a picture) but it had basically the same sentiment.  “For your safety and security, here’s a camera.”  It made me think for a minute.  What is a camera going to do to keep me safe?  They have the camera, so they have to tell us that we may or may not be being watched by law, but for my safety and security?  If that’s all it takes to be safe, then why don’t we just give everyone a camera! There will be no more crime, no more rapes, no more assaults, or homicides, because we have cameras!

Cameras do not keep you safe, or provide security. At best, a camera can only be a witness to a crime occurring. A camera cannot prevent it, and it cannot intervene. Unless someone is actively watching, then a camera cannot even communicate to authorities that there is an issue. Cameras on buses, on street corners, and in department stores do absolutely nothing to prevent any crime because they are passive. They don’t interact, and they most certainly don’t engage criminals.  If you are beaten to death in front of a camera, it didn’t protect you. If you are shot in front of a camera it didn’t keep you safe.  A camera’s sole purpose is evidence after the fact. After the fact meaning after you are injured or deceased.  The camera didn’t intervene. The camera didn’t shoot the bad guy. All a camera can do is watch, and document what happens.  If you want to have a camera to watch your property, whether it is your bus, or your store, or your house, I have no issues with that. But don’t lie to me and tell me it is for my safety and security, because a camera can’t provide that. At least be honest as to why you have a camera. It is only to be a witness to a crime, not to prevent it. Those signs should say that they are only recording evidence to be used if they record a crime and can identify the criminal and decide to prosecute them. That camera couldn’t keep me any safer than a cotton swab could.  Cameras do not provide safety or security, if they did, then if you saw something like this, you should feel perfectly comfortable;


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