Watching Big Brother

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If you want to give security personnel something exciting to do, act suspiciously by walking around a store, looking at all the cameras in the ceiling. Trying doing this at a casino or an airport! It passes the time because someone is bound to approach you. It gives them something to do.

The location of cameras has fascinated me for years. Now, something new is attracting my attention: the placement of the security recording console. This photo was taken inside a hamburger restaurant. They make excellent food. I dine there when passing through Auckland, New Zealand. The place came under new management, and all of a sudden, they installed security cameras. I did not ask them why. Perhaps their insurance company required it.

What amazed me was that for many months, the control unit was placed on a bench where patrons would sit to dine. Those who ordered coffee or a kebab would sit at this bench, on which a range of magazines and newspapers are placed for customers to enjoy. And as you can see, right there, in full view and within easy reach, is the control centre. This stack is the unit that controls all the camera inputs, and which records the activity of the day.

I placed my order and took this photo. One of the staff became agitated. ‘Why are you taking photos of it?’ asked one man, somewhat concerned at my actions. I replied, ‘I find this absolutely stupid, and I give lectures about security, so I wanted to show my class.’ They did not understand what was so stupid about having the control centre within reach of any would-be thief.

A few months later I noticed that they had built a shelf, and raised the equipment high up. Well done. But I was still unhappy about its location. I took more photos, and they were still curious. I explained that an intruder who would gladly pull a knife of carry a gun, would have no hesitation in reaching up and turning the system off either by reaching high, or turning the whole thing off from the electricity switch lower down the wall. Thieves have been known to take the whole recording system with them so as to destroy any evidence.

My warning must have played on their mind. As a result, six months later, they covered the unit with a white tablecloth. When the man saw me enter the store, he must have remembered something about the system, so he hurried to fiddle with the switches. Perhaps my presence reminded him that he had not turned it on that day. He did not escape my eagle lens.

They are improving slowly. I expect that by my next visit, they would have built a cabinet for it, and taken it well away from public view. Here’s hoping.

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