Because of the time and energy that will be expended in this area, as well as the importance of following proper procedures when viewing or saving material, it is important to establish guidelines and policies for an organization. Questions will need to be answered such as: Who will determine when a hard drive is to be removed? Who will be the primary person viewing incidents? How and where will the footage be saved? Also, with more camera systems in service, more data will need to be viewed and saved. This can create another dilemma for the user. It is not out of the question to say not only will a computer need to be specifically designated for viewing and saving material, it is very likely this could become a large portion of a person’s time as well.
Benefiting the Operators
Richard Riley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Milwaukee, Wisc., whose union represents approximately 2,100 members, says, “In the past, installing surveillance cameras on buses struck a nerve with operators. Everyone felt as though “big brother” would be watching every move that they made while driving their buses.” But, while there is still concern regarding the use of cameras for disciplinary purposes, Riley states that the operators of his union have had a “shift in their philosophy.” He goes on to say that “in larger cities where assaults to passengers and operators can occur more frequently, union members now appreciate the added security.” It also helps to ease the minds of operators, given the fact that normal positioning of the cameras in a typical installation do not aim directly at the operators. In fact, unless an operator leaves his or her seat, the person viewing the recorded material will not know who is driving the bus.
Many operators believe cameras are a good tool that can be used to help solve crimes that occur on buses, but even more importantly, they believe that the cameras serve as a deterrent to criminal behavior which creates a more positive and safe work environment for themselves, while also providing the passengers a more relaxed riding experience. When people know their actions are being recorded, more often than not, their behavior improves.
Like the advancements made in the mind-sets of union members, there have been advancements made in the electronic surveillance industry as well. Cameras and recorders are not only getting smaller, but they are being built with technology that will someday, in the not too distant future, allow police or dispatchers to see live streaming video from inside any vehicle that is equipped with a system. In fact, with the use of wireless technology (Wi-Fi), this is already possible with some manufacturers. This type of technology is intriguing, but is it really something that we need?
In our post 9-11 era, there has been an increase around the world of terrorist activity aboard buses, subways and trains, and so this type of wireless technology could be a helpful tool for law enforcement, allowing them to identify exactly who the “bad guy” is, where he is seated or even perhaps to locate a bomb that has been planted inside the vehicle. While terrorism alerts have heightened recently, this type of situation is still an extremely rare occurrence; therefore most transit agencies would not reap the benefits of this added cost. But, benefits are being seen in the reduction and settlement of insurance claims.
Reducing Your Risk With Video Surveillance
Nancy Kreutzman, executive director of Transit Mutual Insurance of Wisconsin, likes the idea of cameras on public buses and states that “approximately half of the transit agencies that TMI insures operate surveillance cameras in their fleet.” With the cost of an insurance claim averaging around $3,000, Kreutzman says a system can virtually pay for itself with the elimination of one fraudulent claim. And there are fraudulent claims.
Vinny Licciardi, a field service technician for Verint Camera Systems, tells the story of an attempted fraudulent claim in a city that had just recently installed surveillance cameras on its buses. He states: “As the mechanic was test driving the coach, he rear-ended a car at a red light. After stepping off the bus to exchange information with the driver of the automobile, the mechanic returned to find 10 people sitting on the bus. They all claimed to be on board at the time of the accident. He tried to explain that the bus was out of service. No one on the bus would leave. He then pointed to the cameras and informed everyone on board that the entire incident had been recorded. Immediately, and without a word, all of the supposed passengers exited the coach.” As funny as this story is, it is unfortunately a true story that happens in cities all across the United States.