A brand-spanking-new control room that will monitor several closed-circuit television cameras during the 2010 Olympics is getting a test run during this year’s Celebration of Light fireworks series, which starts tonight (July 22).
On March 26, council approved staff recommendation to accept a provincial grant of $435,161.81 for a mobile CCTV system, including the setting up of a control room, and ask for $2.1 million in funding from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit for the deployment of cameras in select locations.
These cameras are in addition to the more than 900 cameras that the ISU will use at Olympic venues.
Vancouver police deputy chief Steve Sweeney told council on July 7 that between 50 and 70 surveillance cameras will be deployed at Vancouver celebration live sites, along pedestrian corridors, and in the Granville Street entertainment district.
Kevin Wallinger, the city’s director for emergency management, told the Straight on July 20 that the trial run will test the capability of wireless cameras, which will be mounted in key locations in Vancouver’s English Bay area, the site of the Celebration of Light, to communicate with the control room.
“We haven’t had the control room that we’re building right now,” Wallinger said in a phone interview.
There have been assurances from the city as well as security officials that CCTV deployment during the Olympics will be temporary.
However, activists like Josh Paterson of the Vancouver Public Space Network are doubtful.
“They’ve said that they’re going to be temporary but we know that they built a permanent control centre,” Paterson told the Straight.
“We know that a lot of the installations that they’re wiring and the networks they’re putting in place are permanent. So we have significant doubts as to the temporary nature of the cameras. We know that they will be mobile. But we’re very much worried that Vancouver is going to see what happened in many Olympic cities that were left behind with a vast network of surveillance cameras that are not needed,” Paterson added.
Advocates of surveillance systems have always argued that people who aren’t doing anything illegal have nothing to be worried about getting filmed.
Paterson countered: “If you’re not doing anything wrong then why would you want cameras on you all the time?”