Telecomms & technology

Big Brother becomes self conscious

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Light and camera post

I saw this street lamp/camera combination in Brisbane. It’s a subtle way of installing cameras for Big Brother. It blends well into the park environment.

Camera Crown CasinoThe photo on the right shows the ceiling of Crown Casino in Melbourne. As you can imagine, there would be hundreds of cameras inside a casino. Many of them are easily spotted. Many more are in the darkened domes so that you can never be sure if you are being followed. This camera is encased in the old-fashioned movie-set light unit with four farm-gates. It blends-in with some of the other identical encasements that are, would you believe, real lights. Technically speaking, you cannot sneeze inside a casino without being captured on camera.

I am led to believe that there are no blind-spots at major casinos. Just imagine all the computer software and hardware that manages so many cameras. I am also told that in Australia, casinos are not permitted to have blind-spots inside the casino’s hub (office area) so as to remove the risk of customers being take out the back and roughed up (something that we are told tends to happen at some unscrupulous establishments).

I guess Sydney Airport could learn a thing or two from casinos. When a brawl (involving twenty biker gang members) broke out in full view of passengers and staff near the check-in area at Sydney Airport (one man was killed while others were beaten senseless) it transpired that not a single camera caught the real drama. Oh dear. How can that be? I recall seeing cameras every which way at Sydney airport. Fat lot of good when you actually need one.

Wherever we turn, we are told that we are being watched, monitored, or recorded, and just when you need some evidence to back you up, they say that the tape was not running. Poor Chapelle Corby. She is serving time in an Indonesian prison for drug smuggling. She insisted that she was innocent. Her defence lawyers asked for the the footage from the baggage-handling area of Sydney Airport, and they were told that the footage had been erased. How convenient. What’s the point, and what’s the use? She was accused of refusing to open her bags for inspection in Bali. Again, the cameras inside the customs area were of no help, and it was reported that the local judge was not so keen on seeing the tapes (although some say that the cameras were not operating on that day, and this leads me to wonder how many days of the year they are not operating).

IBM Pennant Hills

I recall at time when I worked at IBM at Pennant Hills. We were on a massive campus. Our building was an award-winning structure with all the bells and whistles. One day, due to global terrorist activities around the world against American companies, security was stepped up. More than ever before, guards were placed at major sections of this huge complex that housed almost 10,000 people. There were check-point inspectors making sure that the staff ID/access-badge (required to open the dozens of doors that one encountered when walking from one end to the other) were not only matching the face with the cardholder, but that badges were face-out. I always wore mine face-in so that members of the public did not spy my name and employee number etc. Anyway, all that security was admirable, but misguided. In my line of work, I often had to carry large files or boxes containing heavy computers from my office to my vehicle, and vice versa. One afternoon, I walked from my office (red dot) to the foyer/reception area (blue dot), and went back to my office to grab the next box so that I could then leave my two heavy boxes in the foyer, while I walked to my car (yellow dot), drive it around, and retrieve my material for a conference I was hosting that evening. By the time I had walked back to my office and then returned to the foyer, I witnessed a flap at the foyer with security guards seconds away from evacuating the building (and that’s no simple decision considering the masses of people inside these multi-storey buildings!) ‘Stand back, stand back,’ shouted one guard. Being security minded, I wanted to know what was going on. The police bomb-squad had been called. ‘What’s it all about?’ I asked. The security guard pointed to the box in the foyer (the one that I had placed there a few minutes prior). He found it suspicious that a box would be left in the reception area. American Express had suffered a few explosions when it was sent bombs in protest against America, so our man could not be blamed for being overly cautious. I explained that I had placed that box there. With this update from me, his Code Orange Alert was defused. I said, ‘Hey, all you had to do was rewind the security tapes. You would have easily seen that it was I who had placed box there.’ The security man whispered, ‘The cameras don’t work’. Laugh if you will. That building boasted every mod-con under the sun. Even the shutters operated automatically, so that the afternoon sun did not inconvenience the high-tech workers. Click-clack could be heard every second of the day as security doors were opened and closed to the thousands or employees who could hardly fetch a cup of coffee without clicking and clacking.

You might be wondering what the pink dot represents. That’s for another daft story. One day I parked my car near that front area (pink dot) where limos and taxis would drop-off VIPs and customers. It was also the visitor parking area. It is much larger than it appears in the photo. IBM was always paranoid about a ram-raid or trucks ploughing through the front foyer. For that reason, there was a water garden feature outside, acting as a mote. The cameras were not only large, imposing, and high-tech, but also boasted night vision! Upon approaching the building, I saw the security guard inspecting a hotrod parked inches from the glass doors. We struck a conversation and I discovered that it was his hobby vehicle… his pride and joy. ‘Why did you park it here?’ I asked, thinking that the sun would not be good for it. ‘Why don’t you park it in one of the underground car spots?’ I added.

The man replied, ‘I like it here so that I can keep an eye on it.’ That did not make sense. His office is well inside. Surely he was not thinking of standing outside all day. He then pointed up to the security camera and said, ‘I train his camera onto it. I can keep an eye on it from my desk.’

Well, there you have it. An American company at the height of its paranoia, with real threats of explosives being levelled against it and against most American companies around the world, at a time when American Express and others had suffered big-time, and there we had a camera, installed at great expense to protect the castle, was turning a blind eye to the world while it spied on the guard’s toy.

As you well know, we now have cameras trained on cameras. All we need is guards to watch guards.

Comments are closed.