How many CCTV cameras per person?

One of the factoids that’s been repeated again and again in the recent civil rights car crash is that there is at least one CCTV camera for every 14 people in the UK. This from the wikipedia page on CCTV

“The exact number of CCTV cameras in the UK is not known but a 2002 working paper by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris of UrbanEye[5], based on a small sample in Putney High Street, estimated the number of surveillance cameras in private premises in London is around 500,000 and the total number of cameras in the UK is around 4,200,000. The UK has one camera for every 14 people.”

Can we do better than this? We don’t have to limit ourselves to a “small sample in Putney High Street” – Has anyone created an interactive map where you can submit known public and private CCTV sites? I think it would show large areas that are not covered by CCTV and many areas that are completely over-saturated.

Would knowing a more accurate number change anything? Would knowing that there’s actually one camera for every 7 people mean that we had any more power to stop the things being put there in the first place? I’d be interested to see what the tipping point is before we get so fed up that we start using paintball guns on the High St like Bernard Cribbins facing a dalek.

14 thoughts on “How many CCTV cameras per person?”

  1. More accurate cctv maps would enable us to develop a UK version of iSee.

    “iSee is a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments. With iSee, users can find routes that avoid these cameras (“paths of least surveillance”) allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by unregulated security monitors.”

  2. I never have a problem with CCTV really. My problem is with a wicked government exploiting the ‘fear/terror’ scenario in the future. And they will.

  3. Does this mean that 14 of us could club together and adopt a camera? Then we could use it to make grainy vids to sell to TV stations!!

  4. @suw thanks – they’ve come a long way since i last saw them – triffic stuff.
    @steve – yes it’s complicated but worth thinking about more
    @dan – love the link from there to the Amsterdam project where they’ve photographed and mapped all of the cameras in the city centre
    @charles – I agree – govt are already doing this too, but I was also influenced by Dan at Interesting2008 who said something along the lines of “What would you think if we had a man sitting on top of all these lampposts, each with a pair of binoculars staring at you”
    @adrian – shudder, I misread that and thought you said “granny vids” – was about to call social services….

  5. I’ve been thinking for a couple of years that a map of CCTV cameras would be good. Open Street Map definitely looks the best place to do it!

  6. Your fellow commentators have touched on the one subject we need to explore – alternative use of this system, i.e. sharing of links or potentially an open access to particular areas that are on CCTV cameras.

    Couple of years ago the Planetarium on the Chicago lake front gave access too the public to view an remotely move the cameras around the lake front .
    Navy Pier, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, etc…

  7. Just for reference (and cos this page came up again when I was searching around this topic again):

    if one adds a point in openstreetmap and then tag it with either man_made=surveillance or surveillance=public|indoor|outdoor then it will appear on this map:

  8. Fom my experience 80% of the 4.2million cameras would be inadmissible in a court of law, but used correctly and responded to quickly CCTV is a excellent detterant

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