Malaysiakini Letter

How effective are CCTV cameras in public spaces?

YS Chan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was recently signed between Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Federal Territories Foundation (YWP) and Safe City Sdn Bhd.

The SafeCity Project aims to create a smart city traffic management monitoring system, digital urban management as well as urban safety prevention through the control of a high definition video monitoring system.

YWP CEO Roslan Hassan said the project is scheduled to be completed in two years. However, the estimated cost of the project has yet to be ascertained.

But if 40,000 high-definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are to be installed along major streets in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, it is bound to cost a few hundred million ringgit of taxpayers’ money.

It would be money well spent if security is indeed enhanced. However, the project has limitations. The presence of CCTV cameras only discourages but do not deter crimes. The recordings are only useful in identifying criminals.

If budget is no constraint, then the SafeCity project should be replicated nationwide, so that security in all our cities and towns are on par with those in developed countries.

But if our authorities are serious and genuine in enhancing the security and safety of our streets and roads, it can be done overnight with zero cost to the government.

Concessionaires could be appointed and paid for evidence submitted, such as recording of traffic violations, snatch thefts, illegal dumping, pollution and suspicious activities.

These concessionaires are then able to hire and train mobile camera crews who are to don bright uniforms. Their visible presence would deter motorists from committing traffic and parking offences. Motorcyclists would have to stop at red lights and it would be hard for snatch thieves to make a clean breakaway.

These concessionaires may choose to install static cameras, much like fisherman using fish traps at choice locations.

In any case, it is up to the concessionaires decide what and where to invest their resources, and will only be paid if the evidence submitted can be used to fine offenders or catch criminals.

Instead of making do with meagre pensions, retired uniformed officers could easily work as mobile camera crews, as thousands could be deployed nationwide. In the process, the authorities could earn several billion ringgit for the government’s coffer from the fines collected.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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