Beware the eye in the sky
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 16:02
Nairobi, soon to join London and other cities, will be covered with cameras to monitor crime and acts of terrorism. At the possibility of a worst-case scenario, the best we can hope for is that the perpetrators can always be monitored and captured by camera, thus leading to their capture and prosecution.
A novel idea. But there are many unanswered questions. What if the system mistakes the perpetrator? After all, the system is still man-made and will, at the end of the day, be manned by people.
Then there is the issue of oversight. Who is to determine if the system is being used for the right purposes or not? The possibility of the system being used to spy on people for acts outside of crime or terrorism is still a huge reality and without proper oversight, is open and subject to misuse at best and abuse at the worst.
But the worst possibility comes down to security. The government is not the poster child of digital security. Government websites have been perpetually hacked and defaced, sometimes by foreign hackers, and sometimes by their own contractors.
While facts about any sensitive data loss can not be taken lightly, one can only imagine that if the government has been lax about security on its own infrastructure, then more complex platforms may suffer the same fate.
Before going to great lengths to instal cameras that may likely create more distrust between people and the government, a better approach would be to first ensure that the police are informed on time and have the means to get there and prevent the crime from happening or at the very least be in a position to pursue and capture the criminals.
If they are not achieving this with the infrastructure they have now, then cameras will do little to change the situation.