Originally ran in the Daily Texan [dailytexanonline.com] on 8/30/04.
Rethinking our false security
Cameras poor solution to defend high-profile areas
By Al Sweigart
Clues for finding the culprits behind the recent MLK vandalism are limited to grainy footage from the two cameras by the statue. The tapes are only able to confirm that two bipedal figures indeed defaced the statue at 3:21 a.m., but little else. It should not be surprising that the surveillance cameras protecting the statue were useless.
Our problem starts out simple: Deter vandals from defacing the MLK statue. The University slaps up a couple video cameras and declares the problem fixed. Unfortunately, someone can easily walk up to the camera from behind to spray paint over the lens, or wear a mask, or – in the case of the recent incident – do nothing at all, because the video quality cannot identify anyone anyway. Far too often a security problem is declared solved so that authorities no longer have to shoulder responsibility for it. (more…)