Entries in surveillance (1)


For business, cameras make sense

It’s not just an election issue, it’s not just a downtown issue… it’s a business issue. Video surveillance has a place in the business community. In Peterborough, the issue of cameras has sparked a lot of discussion over the past decade. Locally, business owners who have put in cameras believe it increases the chances of catching someone damaging property or involved in a theft. Businesses would also be able to help police with an investigation. They view it as another way to protect their investment and the people they employ. 

“The Chamber had its own incident to deal with recently,” says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO of the Chamber. “And we believe that cameras could have helped police solve a crime and further protect a community heritage building.” 

Business owners care about the communities in which they operate. However, the reality is that businesses are constantly treading a line between operating an economic enterprise which helps fuel the economy of their community and being part of the front line to social issues such as poverty, addiction and unemployment. This is true whether a business exists in a downtown area or a business corridor. 

The incident at the Chamber led to correspondence with Peterborough Lakefield Police around processes and what can be done to ensure safety. As a 

result, the Chamber is wholeheartedly in favour of a working group to come up with ideas to improve the city for all residents as suggested by Inspector Dan Smith. “There are no simple solutions and we all must work collaboratively to deal with these problems,” he stated in an email. “Every enforcement initiative we undertake just displaces the activity to another location and doesn't provide a permanent solution. I would like to form a working group of interested persons to see if we can come up with some ideas.” 

The number of businesses choosing to set up cameras is gaining momentum for a variety of reasons. It’s a move the Chamber encourages for several reasons. First, protection of a significant monetary and human capital investment. Second, the ability to help law enforcement should the need arise. 

Global research firm IHS, stated in a press release in January of this year, “The worldwide market for video surveillance equipment is expected to expand by more than 12 percent this year. Revenue in 2014 is expected to rise to $15.9 billion, up from $14.1 billion in 2013.” 

And it’s not just large corporations making the investment. A Globe and Mail article from October 2012 indicates “a significant portion of this growth will be the small to medium-sized business market.” The author of the article Robert Moore goes on to say, “There are many reasons for a company to invest in surveillance technology: staff safety, to deter crime, monitor traffic and improve operations.” 

There is another side to the story and it involves privacy. Do cameras in/on a business invade an individual’s privacy? The easy answer is no. However, when it comes to privacy issues employers must adhere to the Personal Information Protectionand Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This is federal legislation that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is aware of the trend, recognizing that, “as technology has evolved and costs have fallen dramatically, video surveillance is increasingly accessible to a large range of organizations.” 

That being said, the Privacy Commissioner wants businesses to know that privacy laws do still apply and has put together the following list as a way of guiding businesses. 

10 things to do when considering, planning and using video surveillance:  

  • Determine whether a less privacy-invasive alternative to video surveillance would meet your needs. 
  • Establish the business reason for conducting video surveillance and use video surveillance only for that reason. 
  • Develop a policy on the use of video surveillance. 
  • Limit the use and viewing range of cameras as much as possible. 
  • Inform the public that video surveillance is taking place. 
  • Store any recorded images in a secure location, with limited access, and destroy them when they are no longer required for business purposes. 
  • Be ready to answer questions from the public. Individuals have the right to know who is watching them and why, what information is being captured, and what is being done with recorded images. 
  • Give individuals access to information about themselves. This includes video images. 
  • Educate camera operators on the obligation to protect the privacy of individuals. 
  • Periodically evaluate the need for video surveillance.  

These guidelines are not meant to dissuade a business but make them aware of the issues around privacy that could be questioned. 

Even ten years after the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/ Ontario completed a Privacy Review on “Video Surveillance Programs in Peterborough” (December 2004) there are questions about privacy. The report mainly focused on municipal cameras in public places. However, there was attention paid to private businesses installing cameras. Concerns included would cameras be pointed to a public street and if a number of businesses install them does that become a cohesive system? 

Done right, with customer awareness and measures to ensure security of the video, cameras in a business have the ability to protect the business owner and potentially solve a crime -- all in a day’s work. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.