Anyone who has watched any TV at all knows that New York is a place full of violence, terrorists and mobsters. In a bid to control the mayhem, the city is installing 500 wireless cameras to monitor the streets. The initiative, which will cost $9 million, is modeled after a similar program in London and 13 other British cities. The obvious hope is that criminals will think twice about being naughty if they know they are being watched.
Predictably, critics are up in arms. Privacy advocates say that the cameras could be used for racial profiling or voyeurism. Because they are wireless, people are also concerned hat the signal could be intercepted and used inappropriately. More directly, though, the complaint is that it just won’t work. There was little documented drop in crime after the cameras were installed in Britain. City officials are undeterred, though. The $9 million is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $81.5 million in grants they have requested for the program.