Smart CCTV in Contemporary Crime Control: Policies and Practices of Surveillance

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:20 PM
Room: Booth 52
Distributed Paper
Jens HÄLTERLEIN , Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

I would like to address risk governance in crime control by illustrating the development and implementation of so called “smart” CCTV systems in Germany. These video surveillance systems are expected to automatically detect deviant behavior by using software algorithms. Since this technology is not based on the psychological or criminological analysis of deviant individuals, but on the analysis of situation and space classified as dangerous, it comes with an expansion of risk perception: everyone who is monitored by these systems is a potential risk. Hence smart CCTV can be seen as a signature of a new rational of crime control, described by scholars as situational crime prevention, new penology or neo-liberal governmentality. In this new rational, smart CCTV is seen as an efficient and effective tool for security measures. In accordance with this view both, advocates and critics of this technique draw a picture of new powers of control, that stretch from terrorism and incivilities to mass events. This vision of technology based security yet faces technological problems (how can indexical behavior be translated into software algorithms?) and the often divergent interests of prospective users (police, public transport, private enterprises). Drawing from empirical research conducted for the German FMER-funded MuViT project and the EU-funded Videosense project I want to show, that the development of smart CCTV is on the one hand part of a new rational of risk governance in crime control since it comes with a re-coding of risk and security. On the other hand its practical implications correlate with a multitude of social factors.