Media reports on scrutiny of CCTV footage by the police for tracking down alleged criminals have long consolidated a common belief among Dhaka residents: the whole capital is now under surveillance of CCTV (close-circuit television) cameras installed at vantage points. Large developed or developing cities are now fast becoming dependent on CCTVs in order to cope with acts of big and small crimes, as well as disruptions to orderly civic life. The recent FE photograph showing a police technician mounting wireless CCTVs at an important city corner amply tells people that there are many areas in Dhaka which are still out of video surveillance. The project was supposed to be completed much earlier but it evidently did not progress as expected. Yet, people may take heart from the fact that the city-wide project could, at least, get off the ground.
What is needed now is a well-planned execution of the highly important project. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) is in charge of the full installation and operation of the CCTV network in the city. On completion, the video surveillance can be operated from the police control room to enable the personnel concerned to monitor suspicious movements, and even catch them in the act, or scrutinise flashed back footage of the suspected persons committing a crime. Thanks to the ever-awake CCTVs, in the cities of developed countries, few can get away with crimes committed within the range of the cameras.
Although Dhaka apparently is still far from bringing every corner of it under CCTV coverage, the DMP authorities have quite often proved their ability to identify suspected criminals. The modern surveillance technique has helped them nab several delinquents in the recent years. In a densely populated mega city, nature of crimes knows no bounds. Their occurrences are also frequent. In such a situation, the police-operated CCTVs' state-of-the-art functions can help the law enforcers pick up the real culprits from a motley crowd. A number of common crimes like sexual harassment, mugging, kidnapping and extortions --- and bigger crimes like the acts of sabotage, can be reined in successfully through CCTV operations round the clock. The problem which is feared to spoil the efficacy of this appliance is making it malfunction deliberately. It has been seen on many occasions that the camera goes out of order or kept switched off by malevolent quarters at a critical moment. Apparently it is done by elements to keep them out of the crime scene. This practice warrants installation of sophisticated systems which have failsafe devices and are also capable of identifying elements tampering with a CCTV.
Apart from open public places and events, the use of CCTVs has lately entered the domestic sector. The public areas conventionally include key-point installations (KPIs), government offices, foreign diplomatic zones, hotels, clubs, media houses etc. Lately, high-rise apartments have joined the list. One downside is that the CCTV coverage in these private buildings often proves below par. Nonetheless, in an insecure world CCTVs have become a great necessity. There is a flipside though. Activists promoting privacy might weigh in. It's because when a CCTV camera spans over a wide public area, it may spare none. Not even a moody vagabond or an overcurious tourist. It, thus, calls for pragmatic application of the surveillance device.