Poll: 96 Percent Of Americans Support Using Video Surveillance In Public Places To Fight Terrorism

A recent Harris Poll survey indicates that 96 percent of U.S citizens feel the federal government and law enforcement agencies should be able to use video surveillance in an effort to counteract terrorism and help protect U.S. citizens in specific public places.

Four out of five adults feel that in extreme cases, such as a terrorist attack, the government should be able to use any available means to protect citizens, and more than half (54 percent) of U.S. adults are even willing to put a portion of the government’s stimulus funds toward setting up video surveillance to help reduce crime.

The results are at odds with current perceptions about the use of video surveillance, by revealing that only a small minority of Americans is concerned about the federal government or law enforcement agencies using surveillance cameras to monitor public places. That Americans don't mind being watched is especially relevant in light of the recently exposed domestic terror plot in Boston, and subsequent FBI intelligence indicating that Al Qaida recruits are reportedly being encouraged to perform acts of terrorism inside the U.S.

However, citizen support of video surveillance rests on the assumption that more cameras will result in more secure environments, but that isn’t the case. Recently, the security staff at the George Washington Bridge in New York City -- responsible for monitoring bridge cameras and security kiosks -- was photographed sleeping on the job. Thus, camera proliferation alone (The New York Times estimates that London has more than 4.2 million closed-circuit TV cameras) will not solve the problem. Many of these cameras go completely unmonitored because there are simply not enough human eyes available to watch all of the video feeds.

“The widespread adoption of video-camera technology has not made the job of the security officer any easier, nor has it helped obtain actionable intelligence before an intrusion” said John Frazzini, president of Houston-based Behavioral Recognition Systems Inc. (BRS Labs), and a former Secret Service agent.

“We have been working with high-level security customers in the U.S. and around the world to put a new approach to work -- behavioral analytics. Ten days after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last Thanksgiving, a major international hotel installed BRS Labs’ software, AISight, which was designed to autonomously monitor hundreds of cameras simultaneously, and to provide real-time actionable intelligence. In just a few days the hotel’s security staff was able to improve the safety of the hotel’s perimeter. We are also deployed in several high-security U.S. locations including seaports, power plants, nuclear plants and global financial institutions.”

The Harris organization`s online survey, commissioned by BRS Labs, was conducted from May 28 through June 1, with 2,416 adults (ages 18 and over) in the United States interviewed.

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