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tourism centers and the use of CCTV (Closed Circuit Television Cameras)

To Photograph or not to Photograph

Dr. Peter Tarlow  Oct 01, 2010

One of the major controversies within tourism centers is the use of CCTV (Closed Circuit Television Cameras). Traditionally the debate has centered around the need for security versus the need for privacy and how to balance both needs. There is no doubt that many tourism locales rely heavily on CCTV cameras. For example, airports and parking lots, hotel lobbies and amusement parks all use these recording devices. Perhaps the best know places where CCTV cameras have proven highly useful is the world of casino gaming. CCTV cameras allow security personnel to determine who is cheating and if a robbery should occur they not only can close the casino quickly but also have actual proof of who is the culprit.

CCTV cameras, however, are not without their controversial side. Not only are there places in which they cannot be installed, such as locker rooms or hotel bedrooms, but some security agents argue that they are merely reactive rather than proactive devices. For example, there is no city on earth that has more cameras than does London, England. Yet despite the prevalence of CCTV cameras, the cameras did not prevent the London bombings. In reality there are at least two different forms of CCTV cameras. On one hand, there are CCTV cameras that merely record. There is no one watching these cameras, but should an incident occur, there is a recording of the incident and possible proof of culpability.

The second form of a CCTV camera is that is used in casinos, that is that the cameras are constantly being monitored and it is assumed that were something to happen, that security would be able to interact immediately. CCTV cameras then have their pros and cons. Here are just a few examples of the positives and negatives of this form of security device.

On the pro-side
-May provide a greater sense of security. The camera indicates that the tourism provider cares enough to spend money on his/her customer's security. Often visitors feel comforted in just knowing that the tourism attraction, hotel, or transportation center is being monitored.
-The cameras may act as a criminal deterrent. While no camera acts as a total deterrent the criminal does not know if the camera will record him/her and therefore may shy away from that local
-May be a major deterrent in stopping internal theft or pilferage. Stores often lose a great deal of money from acts of pilferage, internal stealing and employee theft. These cameras may be highly effective tools in limiting these problems.
-The cameras may provide conclusive evidence of a criminal. If the criminal is in the right position then these cameras can be extremely helpful in obtaining a conviction.
On the negative side it is essential that before installation the tourism entity consider:
-Not only the set-up costs of the CCTV cameras but also their maintenance costs. Even if the cameras are only passive instruments that will not be monitored, the costs of maintenance must be balanced against other costs. For example, would an additional security guard be more effective and provide greater protection?
-Make sure you are clear regarding privacy rights. In most cases public places are open to being video recorded, but check with not you're your lawyer (or legal team) but also your marketers for any unexpected publicity fall-out.

On the more problematic side:

-CCTV cameras may promote a sense of indifference. There have been enough incidents where cameras have recorded the public's indifference that there is at least a hypothetical chance that people who see these cameras may choose not to get involved.
To help you decide if and what type of CCTV camera works best for you, Tourism & More suggests that you consider the following:
-If you are going to use CCTV cameras, know what are your objectives. CCTV cameras are a major investment, make sure that you have clear and precise objectives and know exactly what you hope to achieve by placing these cameras in strategic locations.
-Make sure you know the limitations of the CCTV cameras. For example, if the crime takes place in a location that the camera is not recording, then it was basically of no use. Some cameras take clearer images than do others. If the image is not recognizable, once again the camera created a false sense of security.
-Do not use dummy cameras. Perhaps the worst thing that you can do is to place non-working cameras around your premises. These create a false sense of security and may in the end lead to either a marketing disaster or a potential legal problem.

-if installing these cameras; make sure that you plan not only for current needs but also for future needs. How easily can these cameras be upgraded? Do you have a plan should you need to change the cameras' placements and use? Also ask if the cameras can be tampered with or what it would take to simply "disarm" the camera.

-Make sure you know the costs of replacing and repairing these cameras. There is nothing in this world that will not either need to be replaced or changed at some point. If you work with a reputable dealer these problems should be considered before purchasing cameras.

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is the President of T&M, a founder of the Texas chapter of TTRA and a popular author and speaker on tourism. Tarlow is a specialist in the areas of sociology of tourism, economic development, tourism safety and security. Tarlow speaks at governors' and state conferences on tourism and conducts seminars throughout the world and for numerous agencies and universities.

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To Photograph or not to Photograph
Source: Courtesy of Tourism Tidbits

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