[Paleopsych] Wikipedia: Surveillance
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Sat Feb 5 11:05:52 UTC 2005
Surveillance - Wikipedia
Surveillance is a process of close monitoring of behaviour.
"Sur-Veillance" is French for to "watch from above". Note the all
seeing "eye-in-the-sky" in this London Transport poster
"Sur-Veillance" is French for to "watch from above". Note the all
seeing "eye-in-the-sky" in this London Transport poster
Although the word surveillance literally means (in French) "to watch
from above" (i.e. a God's-eye view looking down from on-high) the term
is often used for all forms of observation, not just visual
However, the all-seeing eye-in-the-sky is still an icon of
surveillance in general.
It is commonly used to describe observation from a distance by means
of electronic equipment or other technological means, for example:
* telephone tapping
* directional microphones
* communications interception
* covert listening devices or 'bugs'
* Minox subminiature cameras
* closed-circuit television
* electronic tagging
* military reconnaissance
* Reconnaissance aircraft, e.g. Lockheed U-2
* Reconnaissance satellites
* "trusted" computing devices
* Internet and computer surveillance
However, surveillance also includes simple, relatively low-technology
methods such as postal interception, watching from nearby
buildings with binoculars or similar and visiting properties in
The term can also be used to describe the monitoring of diseases
1 Surveillance, counter-surveillance, inverse surveillance, and
2 Impact of surveillance
3 Telephones and mobile telephones
4 Postal services
5 Surveillance devices - 'bugs'
6 Computer Surveillance
8 Closed circuit TV
9 Documentation trails
10 Data profiling
12 Human operatives and social engineering
13 Personal counter-surveillance
14 Natural surveillance
15 See also
17 External links
Surveillance, counter-surveillance, inverse surveillance, and sousveillance
"Eye-in-the-sky" surveillance dome camera mounted atop a tall
"Eye-in-the-sky" surveillance dome camera mounted atop a tall steel
Surveillance is the art of watching over the activities of persons or
groups from a position of higher authority. Surveillance may be covert
(without their knowledge) or overt (perhaps with frequent reminders
such as "we are watching over you"). Surveillance has been an
intrinsic part of human history. Sun Tzu's The Art of War,
written 2,500 years ago, discusses how spies should be used against a
person's enemies. But modern electronic and computer technology have
given surveillance a whole new means of operation. Surveillance can be
automated using computers, and people leave extensive records that
describe their activities.
Counter surveillance is the practice of avoiding surveillance or
making it difficult. Before computer networks, counter surveillance
involved avoiding agents and communicating secretly. With recent
development of the Internet and computer databases counter
surveillance has grown. Now counter surveillance involves everything
from knowing how to delete a file on a computer to avoiding becoming
the target of direct advertising agencies.
Inverse surveillance is the practice of reversalism on surveillance,
e.g. citizens photographing police, shoppers photographing
shopkeepers, and passengers photographing cab drivers who usually have
surveillance cameras in their cabs. A well-known example is George
Haliday's recording of the Rodney King beating. Inverse
surveillance attempts to subvert the Panoptic gaze of surveillance,
and often attempts to subvert the secrecy of surveillance through
making the inverse surveillance recordings widely available (in
contrast to the usually secret surveillance tapes).
Sousveillance (French for "to watch from below") further includes the
recording of an activity by a participant in the activity, in addition
to inverse surveillance. Recent sousveillance workshops such
as Microsoft's Continuous Archival and Recording of Personal
Experience (http://research.microsoft.com/CARPE2004/) are evidence of
a growing sousveillance industry including Microsoft (wearable
cameras), Nokia, Hewlett Packard ("Casual Capture") and many others.
Impact of surveillance
Image:Moving-camera.gif The greatest impact of computer-enabled
surveillance is the large number of organisations involved in
* The state and security services still have the most powerful
surveillance systems, because they are enabled under the law. But
today levels of state surveillance have increased, and using
computers they are now able to draw together many different
information sources to produce profiles of persons or groups in
* Many large corporations now use various form of 'passive'
surveillance. This is primarily a means of monitoring the
activities of staff and for controlling public relations. But
some large corporations actively use various forms of surveillance
to monitor the activities of activists and campaign groups who
may impact their operations.
* Many companies trade in information lawfully, buying and selling
it from other companies or local government agencies who collect
it. This data is usually bought by companies who wish to use it
for marketing or advertising purposes.
* Personal information is obtained by many small groups and
individuals. Some of this is for harmless purposes, but
increasingly sensitive personal information is being obtained for
criminal purposes, such as credit card and other types of
For those who are peacefully working to change society, surveillance
presents a problem. Particularly after the September 11th, 2001
terrorist attacks, many states now view political dissent as a
problem, and have introduced new laws to strengthen their surveillance
powers. Many states have also redefined their legal definition of
terrorism to not only include violent acts, but also types of direct
action protest. Even where groups have no involvement in
violence, states and corporations may try to use information obtained
about groups or individuals to discredit their work. As the scope of
surveillance increases, it is important that groups and individuals
manage their exposure to different types of surveillance to limit the
damage it can do to them, or their work.
Modern surveillance cannot be totally avoided. If the state uses all
of their resources to investigate a person's activities, they will be
able to do so. However, non-state groups may employ surveillance
techniques against an organisation, and some precautions can reduce
their success. Some states are also legally limited in how extensively
they can conduct general surveillance of people they have no
particular reason to suspect.
Note: In all the forms of surveillance mentioned below, the issue of
patterns is important. Although in isolation a single piece of
communications data seems useless, when collected together with the
communications data of other people it can disclose a lot of
information about organisational relationships, work patterns,
contacts and personal habits. The collection and processing of
communications data is largely automated using computers. See also:
Telephones and mobile telephones
The official and unofficial tapping of telephone lines is widespread.
The contracts or licenses by which the state controls telephone
companies means that they must provide access for tapping lines to the
security services and the police.
For mobile phones the major threat is the collection of communications
data. This data not only includes information about the time and
duration of the call, but also the geographical location where the
call was made from and to whom. This data can be determined generally
because the geographic communications cell that the call was made in
is stored with the details of the call. But it is also possible to get
greater resolution of a persons location by combining information from
a number of cells surrounding the persons location.
Mobile phones are, in surveillance terms, a major liability. This
liability will only increase as the new third-generation (3G) phones
are introduced. This is because the base stations will be located
See the article telephone tapping for more details.
As more people use faxes and email the significance of the postal
system is decreasing (this may not be the case in all countries,
certainly the case with international communications, but probably not
local). But interception of post is still very important to the
There is no easy way to know your post is being read. The machines
used to sort and stamp letters often rip up items anyway, so damage is
no certain indicator that your post is being read.
The simplest counter-measure to stop your post being opened is to put
sticky tape along each edge and the seams of the envelope, and then
sign the tape with an indelible marker. That prevents all but the most
People used to send floppy disks via the post. Today these files can
go easily by email. But CDs and DVDs of data are still
regularly sent by post. To ensure that this data is not open to
reading by anyone, even if its just wrongly delivered, you should
encrypt the data.
Surveillance devices - 'bugs'
Surveillance devices or 'bugs' are not really a communications medium,
but they are a device that requires a communications channel. The idea
of a 'bug' usually involves a radio transmitter, but there are many
other options for carrying a signal; you can send radio frequencies
through the main wiring of a building and pick them up outside, you
can pick up the transmissions from a cordless phones, and you can pick
up the data from poorly configured wireless computer networks or tune
in to the radio emissions of a computer monitor.
Bugs come in all shapes and sizes. The original purpose of bugs was to
relay sound. Today the miniaturisation of electronics has progressed
so far then even TV pictures can be broadcast via bugs that
incorporate miniature video cameras (something made popular recently
during TV coverage sports events, etc.). The cost of these devices has
See the article on bugging for more details.
At the very basic level, computers are a surveillance target because
you confide your secrets into them. Anyone who can and access or
remove your computer can retrieve your information. If someone is able
to install software on your system they can turn your computer into a
Computers can be tapped by a number of methods, ranging from the
installation of physical bugs, to the installation of surveillance
software or remote interception of the radio transmissions generated
by the normal operation of computers.
See the article computer surveillance for more details.
Photography is becoming more valuable as a means of surveillance. In
recent years there has been a significant expansion in the level of
stills and video photography carried out at public demonstrations in
many countries. At the same time there have been advances in closed
circuit television (CCTV) technology and computer image processing
that enable digital images taken from cameras to be matched with
images stored in a database.
Photographs have long been collected as a form of evidence. But as
protest and civil disobedience become an ever greater liability to
governments and corporations, images are gathered not only as evidence
for prosecution, but also as a source of intelligence information. The
collection of photographs and video also has another important
function - it scares people.
Closed circuit TV
Closed circuit TV (CCTV) - where the picture is viewed or recorded,
but not broadcast - initially developed as a means of security for
banks. Today it has developed to the point where it is simple and
inexpensive enough to be used in home security systems, and for
The widespread use of CCTV by the police and governments has developed
over the last 10 years. In the UK, cities and towns across the country
have installed large numbers of cameras linked to police authorities.
The justification for the growth of CCTV in towns is that it deters
crime - although there is still no clear evidence that CCTV reduces
crime. The recent growth of CCTV in housing areas also raises serious
issues about the extent to which CCTV is being used as a social
control measure rather than simply a deterrent to crime.
The development of CCTV in public areas, linked to computer databases
of people's pictures and identity, presents a serious risk to civil
liberties. Potentially you will not be able to meet anonymously in a
public place. You will not be able to drive or walk anonymously around
a city. Demonstrations or assemblies in public places could be
affected as the state would be able to collate lists of those leading
them, taking part, or even just talking with protesters in the street.
See the article CCTV for more details.
Modern society creates huge amounts of data. Every time you use a bank
machine, pay by credit card, use a phone card or make a call from home
you clock up electronic records of transactions. In the past these
would have been called 'paper trails'. But today many of these records
are electronic. This information, if obtained by the state, or
obtained through unofficial channels (sorting your rubbish/bribing
those in charge of keeping the information) can also describe how you
live and work.
One of the greatest freedoms we have is to buy a book, or a newspaper,
or to donate money to a cause, and do so with complete anonymity. When
transactions are electronic, that anonymity is lost.
Marketing and credit reporting agencies rival the state intelligence
services for their collection of dossiers. Today a whole web of
information is collected by marketing companies in order to sell you
things, or determine how companies should run their marketing
strategies. The details from a whole range of transactions, from
credit agreements to the electoral register, are all purchased by
market research companies to provide information on the habits of the
public as potential customers.
Most of the information described above is generalised - it identifies
trends from large quantities of data, and the role of the individual
in that is very minor. Data profiling on the other hand is a process
whereby someone seeks to get as much information about you as possible
- personally - in order to assemble a picture of your specific life
Data profiling is very important in intelligence operations and has
many applications - from deciding whether a person is vulnerable to
bribery, through to conducting profiling of suspects to decide where
they can be apprehended. The state has powers to do this by issuing
orders that banks, credit companies or even your employer supply data
to them. But even corporations and private investigators can
assemble this information if they are well connected.
Much personal information is not very well protected, because small
amounts of information is not considered sensitive. But once this
information is brought together it can describe in detail the actions,
habits and preferences of the individual.
Historically, much information has been protected by practical
obscurity, the difficulty of aggregating or analyzing a large number
of data points. This has lead to unexpected results as birth records,
property tax rolls, and other records are brought online, where they
can be easily collated by computer.
There are instances when we wish to hide our identity - to remain
anonymous - for a whole range of reasons. To eliminate this will be a
serious erosion of our civil liberties. This is possible as we move
towards the development of 'electronic identities. There are two
aspects to this:
* the development of systems of credentials - where you carry a card
or a document; and
* the development of biometrics - where you are recognised from
your 'unique' biological characteristics.
The development of identity systems is being pushed on two fronts:
* The banking industry, who wish to find a more fool-proof system of
verifying financial transactions than the possession of a plastic
card or the use of a signature;
* Law enforcement, who want a way of identifying individuals easily,
even if they have no reason (i.e. evidence) to do so. (See
Stop and Search
One of the simplest forms of identification is the carrying of
credentials. Some countries have an identity card system to aid
identification. Other documents, such as drivers licenses, library
cards, bankers or credit cards are also used to verify identity. The
problem with identity based on credentials is that the individual must
carry them, and be identifiable, or face a legal penalty. This problem
is compounded if the form of the identify card is 'machine-readable'
(could you explain more) In this case it may create a document trail
as it is used to verify transactions.
As a means of combating the problem of people carrying or falsifying
credentials, researchers are increasingly looking at biometrics -
measuring biological or physical characteristics - as a way to
determine identity. One of the oldest forms of biometrics is
fingerprints. Every finger of every person (identical twins included)
has a unique pattern, and these have been used for many years to help
identify suspects in police enquiries. A finger/thumb print can be
reduced to a brief numeric description, and such systems are being
used in banks and secure areas to verify identity.
A more recent development is DNA fingerprinting, which looks at some
of the major markers in the body's DNA to produce a match. However,
the match produced is less accurate than ordinary fingerprints because
it only identifies people to a certain probability of matching.
Further, identical twins have identical DNA, and so are
indistinguishable by this method.
Handwriting - primarily your signature - has been used for many years
to determine identity. However other characteristics of the individual
can also be used to check identity. Voice analysis has been used for
some as a means to prove identity - but it is not suited to portable
use because of the problems of storing a range of voice prints. But
perhaps the two most viable portable systems, because identities can
be reduced to a series of numeric data points rather than a detailed
image or sound, are:
* Iris recognition. Some banks are now using this method of
security. The human iris has an almost unique pattern that can be
reduced to a simple series of numeric descriptions. The iris
reader matches the pattern of the iris to one stored and verifies
* Facial recognition. The configuration of the facial features can
be used to accurately identify one individual from another. Again,
the configuration can be reduced to a short numeric description.
By combining some form of personal identifying feature, with a system
of verification it is possible to do everything from buying food to
travelling abroad. The important issue is how this information is
managed in order to reduce the likelihood of tracking. If you were to
combine a particular biometric system with new smart card technology
to store the description, that system would be immune from tracking
(unless the transaction produced a document/electronic trial). But if
the identifying features are stored centrally, and a whole range of
systems have access to those descriptions, it is possible that other
uses could be made of the data; for example, using high resolution
CCTV images with a databases of facial identities in order to identify
people at random.
Human operatives and social engineering
The most invasive form of surveillance is the use of human operatives.
This takes two forms:
* The use of operatives to infiltrate an organisation; and
* The use of social engineering techniques to obtain information.
In groups dealing with issues that are directly contrary to government
policy the issue of infiltration often arises. Also, where groups
oppose large corporations, infiltration by agents of the corporation
is also feared. As well as operatives, the police and security
services may put pressure on certain members of an organisation to
disclose the information they hold on other members.
Running operatives is very expensive, and for the state the
information recovered from operatives can be obtained from less
problematic forms of surveillance. If discovered, it can also be a
public relations disaster for the government or corporation involved.
For these reasons, the use of operatives to infiltrate organisations
is not as widespread as many believe. But infiltration is still very
likely from other organisations who are motivated to discover and
monitor the work of campaign groups. This may be for political or
economic motivations. There are also many informal links between large
corporations and police or security services, and the trading of
information about groups and activists is part of this relationship.
It is not possible to guard against the infiltration of an
organisation without damaging the viability or effectiveness of the
organisation. Worrying too much about infiltration within the
organisation can breed mistrust and bad working relationships within
an organisation. Rather like other forms of surveillance, the
professional infiltration of operatives into and organisation is
difficult to guard against.
Another more likely scenario, especially when dealing with the media
or corporate public relations, is social engineering. Social
engineering is where someone phones you, interviews you, or just talks
to you in the street and tries to make you believe they are someone
else, or someone with an innocuous interest in you. But their real
interest is to obtain some specific information that they believe you
You should develop clear procedures for handling enquiries about your
work. For example, one day you get a phone call saying "hi, I'd really
like to come on your demonstration against Company X, when is it?",
or, "I'm calling for john, he's lost the password for the computer can
you give it to me?". You have to guard against the disclosure of
information in this way:
Unless you have an extremely good reason to, you should never give any
security-related information over the phone, and via the Internet you
should encrypt security information.
Social engineering is easily identified by asking a series a questions
to see if a person is aware of facts or future plans that they should
not have awareness of.
Journalists for well known media organisation can be verified by
phoning the editor of that organisation, but freelance or independent
journalists should be treated with care - they could be working for
There is of course a balance to be struck here. You need to be able to
allow people a certain amount of access to your campaigns. But you
also need to preserve the integrity of the groups of people most
closely involved in the campaigns work. How you arrive at this balance
is your own, difficult, problem to resolve. But however it is
resolved, it must be agreed between all those involved in a particular
issue in order that you have a consistent policy with all those
Counter-surveillance is reliant on good information security planning.
Protecting information is the first stage of counter-surveillance. But
counter surveillance must also be seen as a balancing of opposing
If you are very good at restricting all information, that state or
corporations will have problems monitoring you. However, you are also
likely to become more isolated and secretive in the process.
Therefore, like information security, counter surveillance requires an
effort to protect those activities or information that are sensitive,
whilst giving less emphasis to those activities that can be open to
Information security is primarily based on protecting equipment with
security procedures and barriers. Personal counter-surveillance is
based on much the same process, but instead you provide security and
barriers around your own personal habits. As humans we are creatures
of habit. If we exhibit very predictable habits, this makes monitoring
of our activities easier. But if on certain occasions we break our
habits, it can also give away the fact that we are doing something at
that time which is not part of our everyday work.
The best way to begin thinking about avoiding surveillance is to think
about breaking the regular patterns in your life. This masks regular
activity, so making it harder to practice routine surveillance. But it
also masks the times when you may undertake activities out of the
Breaking regular patterns does not mean going to bed at different
times, or working different hours everyday. Instead it requires that
any activities you wish to avoid being the subject of surveillance are
integrated into the other events in your life - but not to the extent
that they become predictable. If you change the route you take to work
or to shop on a random basis, you make it more difficult to monitor
your movements. If you build irregular appointments into activities
that might involve surveillance, it creates a background 'noise' in
the pattern of your activities that masks any change in your habits.
Securing the information on your computer will help your overall
security. If you have a portable computer you are presented with a
whole new problem because you move that system outside of your
ordinary systems of security and access barriers. Therefore special
care should be taken with portable computers:
* The system should be secured with a BIOS password to prevent
* Use encryption of the hard disk, where possible, to prevent access
to the contents of the hard disk if it is removed from the
* Ensure that your portable computer has different passwords than
those used on your static equipment.
Securing your information is fairly easy. But the main issue you will
have to deal with when considering personal surveillance is how to
carry out meetings, and networking with people, when you need to
discuss sensitive issues.
Primarily, when dealing with sensitive information, avoid generating
any kind of documentation or opportunities for surveillance. Think
about implementing the following as part of your work:
* Travel -
+ If you are travelling to a sensitive meeting take a different
route going there and coming back, and if possible do not use
the same bus or station when going to or leaving the location
you are travelling to. This lessens the likelihood that your
destination will be identified.
+ If travelling on sensitive business, try to use public
transport. Using you own private cars will provide a
+ To avoid the CCTV systems in public places move with the
crowd; don't rush, don't cut corners, and don't look around
for CCTV cameras.
+ If you can build in other events/appointments as part of your
journey, that will help provide an alternate motive for
travelling to that area of a town or city.
+ Facial recognition systems work primarily on the
configuration of facial features. To work they need to get a
good view of the face. Looking at a slight angle towards the
ground, and wearing a hat with a brim, helps fool the system.
+ If you travel using public transport, roaming tickets are
preferable to tickets for a specific journey - they give you
more flexibility over the route, and they are more difficult
to associate a route travelled with a particular ticket
+ If you have the time available and you can obtain a roaming
ticket, build in some extra time to your journey and change
trains to make it hard to piece together your journey from
CCTV and surveillance sources.
+ If travelling in a town, avoid moving through the major
shopping areas, or 'controlled environments' such as shopping
centres. These have the highest level of CCTV coverage.
+ Always assume that public transport vehicles have CCTV
installed - travelling during peak hours will help mask your
+ To make following you in person or via CCTV more difficult do
not wear distinctive clothes or carry distinctive objects -
+ Darkness aids anonymity, but is not a foolproof solution to
the latest CCTV cameras which can see in the dark.
* Mobile phones -
+ If in doubt, turn it off.
+ If travelling to a sensitive location, in an urban area do
not use your phone within two or three miles of the location,
or in rural areas do not use it within ten or fifteen miles
of the location. This will prevent the creation of a trail
that associates you with that location on that day.
+ If the location you are going to is nowhere near a route you
regularly travel, turn off your phone before you start your
+ If you desperately need to mask your location, let someone
else carry your phone around for the day - but this is only
realistic if you take all precautions to prevent generating
other document trails whilst you are moving around.
* Payments -
+ If you are travelling to a sensitive location, don't pay by
credit/debit card or take money from a cash machine.
+ If you need to spend cash when travelling to/working around a
sensitive location, do not spend the notes taken directly
from the cash machine (their sequential numbers may be
logged). Keep a supply of notes received as change elsewhere
and use those.
+ If you need to buy something when travelling to/working
around a sensitive location, do not give any loyalty cards or
personalised money off tokens as part of your purchases -
they are traceable.
* Communications -
+ If you need to make a sensitive phone call that must not be
directly associated with you, do so from a public phone box.
But beware, if you are associated with the person at the
other end of the call, and the content of their calls (rather
than just the data) is being monitored, your location at that
date and time will be discovered.
+ If using public phone boxes, try to use them randomly across
an area rather than the ones that are closest to you. Also,
try to avoid phone boxes on direct transport routes to your
home or place of work.
+ If you wish to send something sensitive through the post,
wear gloves to prevent creating fingerprints when
producing/packing the item, do not lick the envelope or
stamps to prevent creating a DNA sample, and post it in a
different location to where you normally post your letters
(the further the better) using stamps bought on a different
+ If you need to send a sensitive fax, use a copy shop/bureau
which has a self-service desk.
+ If you desperately need to keep in communication, buy a
pay-as-you-go mobile phone and only use it for a day or
two whilst you are engaged in sensitive work.
* Online -
+ Maintain a number of alternate personas on the Internet that
give you access to web mail and other services should you
ever need to use them.
+ If you need to use the Internet, use a cybercafe, but
make sure that you do not access your own Internet services
from the cybercafe - use an alternate persona.
+ If you need to view material that you do not wish to be
associated with as part of the server logs of your Internet
service provider, use a cybercafe.
+ If you use cybercafes as part of your communications, try not
to use the same one.
+ If you have a laptop computer, and you wish to mask your
location, let someone you trust use it online whilst you are
away on sensitive work.
* Meetings -
+ When organising a private meeting, if you cannot send details
to all involved in ways that will not be intercepted always
try to agree on meeting in one location near to the meeting
place. You can then direct people to the correct location as
they arrive. By keeping the location of a private meeting
limited, you lessen the likelihood of the location being
+ If meeting in the home or building of another person or
organisation do not make a phone call from their phone to a
number that is identified with you, or from a public phone
box near to that building.
+ If the people going to a private meeting are likely to have
mobile phones, ask them to turn them off before travelling to
the meeting place (if all the mobile phones of a groups of
people are in the same cell at the same time on the same day,
it can be assumed that you have had a meeting).
+ If you require a private meeting place, do not keep using the
same one. Alternate it as much as possible. Also, if you meet
in a public place, pick somewhere with a high level of
background noise, and with as many obstacles or partitions
around the point where you meet, to prevent your
conversations being overheard.
+ If you must pay for something whilst having a meeting, use
cash. Or, if you cannot, get one person to pay. In this way
you will not generate paper trails linking you together.
+ Meeting in public spaces, streets, in parks, or on public
transport is not a good idea - many of these areas are
surveilled by CCTV. But bars, cafes and restaurants tend not
have their CCTV systems linked to a central control room, and
what CCTV systems are installed are concentrated around the
All forms of technical counter surveillance is achieved through the
use or implementation of Technical Surveillance Counter Measures or
TSCM. These measures apply equally for the worried individual as
to the diligent corporation. Corporate Espionage is on the increase,
and because of this it is an ever increasing threat in day to day life
Natural surveillance is a term used in "Crime Prevention Through
Environmental Practices"(CPTED) and "Defensible Space" models for
crime prevention. These models rely on the ability to influence
offender decisions preceding criminal acts. Research into
criminal behavior demonstrates that the decision to offend or not to
offend is more influenced by cues to the perceived risk of being
caught than by cues to reward or ease of entry. Consistent with this
research CPTED based strategies emphasise enhancing the perceived risk
of detection and apprehension.
Natural surveillance limits the opportunity for crime by taking steps
to increase the perception that people can be seen. Natural
surveillance occurs by designing the placement of physical features,
activities and people in such a way as to maximize visibility and
foster positive social interaction. Potential offenders feel increased
scrutiny and limitations on their escape routes. Natural surveillance
is typically free of cost however its effectiveness to deter crime
varies with the individual offender.
Jane Jacobs, North American editor, urban activist, urban planning
critic, and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities
(1961), formulated the natural surveillance strategy based on her
work in New York's Greenwich Village. Natural surveillance is
naturally occurring. As people are moving around an area, they will be
able to observe what is going on around them, provided the area is
open and well lit. Supporting a diversity of uses within a public
space is highly effective. Other ways to promote natural surveillance
include low landscaping, street lights, street designs that
encourage pedestrian use, removing hiding and lurking places, and
placing high risk targets, such as expensive or display items, in
plain view of legitimate users, such as near a receptionist or sales
Included in the design are features that maximize visibility of
people, parking areas and building entrances: doors and windows
that look out on to streets and parking areas, see-through barriers
(glass brick walls, picket fences), pedestrian-friendly
sidewalks and streets, and front porches. Designing nighttime
lighting is particularly important: uniform high intensity "carpet"
lighting of large areas is discouraged, especially where lights
glare into (and discourage) observers eyes. In its place is feature
lighting that draws the observer's focus to access control points and
potential hiding areas. Area lighting is still used, but light sources
are typically placed lower to the ground, at a higher density, and
with lower intensity and more controlled glare than the lighting it is
designed to replace.
Any architectural design that enhances the chance that a
potential offender will be, or might be, seen is a form of natural
surveillance. Often, it is not just the fact that the offender might
be seen that matters. It is that the offender "thinks" they will be
seen that can help deter the opportunity for crime.
* Information Awareness Office
* Inverse surveillance
* Mass surveillance
* Surveillance aircraft
* Secure computing
* The Transparent Society
* Treaty on Open Skies
* David Brin (1998), The Transparent Society New York:
Addison-Wesley: ISBN 0-201-32802-X
* Simson Garfinkel, Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in
the 21st Century. O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. ISBN
* Jacobs, Jane (1961) The Death and Life of Great American
Cities New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-60047-7
* Much of the text of this article is taken from "Living Under
Surveillance" (http://secdocs.net/manual/lp-sec/scb7.html) written
by Paul Mobbs for the Association for Progressive Communications,
which is licensed under the GFDL, and hence can be used in
* David Brin's web
* Surveillance &
Society (http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/) Free academic
e-journal on surveillance. Includes resources
* International Workshop on Inverse
* This page was last modified 00:24, 10 Jan 2005.
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