Is this the worst model ever for municipal monitoring?
We've been writing quite a bit about public-private partnerships for municipal surveillance, with the general model being that the city and/or some private businesses buy some cameras, have them installed, and then contract with a private monitoring center to monitor them. It seems to work especially well with some analytics involved. But here in Lancaster, it's an unaccountable non-profit organization that's installing and watching the cameras. Why? As the critics in the story I linked to suggest, it's not controlled by the cops, so there's no jurisdictional reason for these people to be watching, and it's not a professional security company, so there's no industry-standard controls as might be employed at a five diamond monitoring center. This weird Lancaster Community Safety Coalition runs everything, but they don't seem to have any idea what they're doing. They're defending themselves as though they're being hit with Big Brother attacks, but that's not really the issue. The issue seems to be that their model is doomed for failure and makes no sense. But they don't even get the argument being levied against them. People say this: "Crystle, a software entrepreneur who has spoken out against the cameras for more than four years, says they should be turned off until the coalition establishes clear framework for accountability and oversight." LCSC replies with this: ""There have been lots of opportunities to weigh in on this," says Lancaster Alliance president Jack Howell, also a coalition board member." But then can't give an example of who they'd actually be accountable to the community. It's not that people don't feel like they can't weigh in, it's they feel like there's nothing good to weigh in on. I'm really quite perplexed by how they came to the idea that they wanted neighbors and volunteers watching the cameras instead of police and professionals. This commenter at the bottom seems like the smartest guy in Lancaster to me: "I really just wish that this was something the police controlled entirely. Oddly, I feel even stranger knowing that most of the people that work there live in the city. I feel a lot could be done to hide footage or just not tape crimes being committed when they might be friends of yours." Right? Do you really want your neighbors watching the cameras? Or do you want third-party, objective people watching the cameras? It just seems like a strange, strange setup. One not to be emulated.