Chicago Crime Cameras: Preventing Crime or Invading Privacy?

While Chicago has some great areas packed with culture, shopping and dining; you may stumble upon some areas you should avoid. Some zones of the city are denser with criminal activity than others, and knowing where to go and what do in Chicago is an essential part of planning your visit.

A recent study shows that crime cameras, which are mounted in public places and streets that are prone to crime, have more effectiveness when they are clustered together. The findings of this study were reported by science and technology site, and offer some insight into the lengths Chicago officials and police are willing to go in order to prevent criminal activity.

The cited study reviewed data from various camera groupings, and rated the effectiveness of using security cameras, the response of the Chicago police force and whether the number of cameras in a given area had an impact on crime levels. The findings should be of interest to anyone planning on visiting the city, and may raise concerns about both privacy and safety.

  • Public safety: Crime rates do drop when visible, obvious security cameras are used; mainly because most people hesitate to perform criminal acts if they are being watched and recorded. The cameras may also reduce crime by aiding in identifying the criminals and making it possible to apprehend them. Fewer criminals on the street should equal less crime.
  • Police Response: High crime areas already have a constant police presence making a prompt response more likely. Cameras within these danger zones are likely to be monitored more vigilantly and focus police efforts to offenses that can be seen on film.
  • Distribution: One of the key findings in the study was camera placement, distribution and how the number of cameras in an area impacted the crime statistics. Preliminary findings reveal that clustering groups of cameras in crime ridden areas yield better results compared to scattering cameras evenly around the city. What does this mean to you as a tourist? If you are in an area that has a ton of cameras, it’s time to head to a better neighborhood!
  • Privacy: When even a single camera records you in public, your privacy may be violated in dozens of ways. Your destination, activities, companions and actions are recorded on film and may be reviewed by multiple strangers. Fall on a city street? Your tumble may be seen and shared by any employees watching. Multiply the privacy issue by as many cameras as Chicago has and you have a huge potential privacy issue.

Is the loss of privacy worth the reduction in crime? For some it likely is, and according to these recent findings the cameras are working to reduce crime statistics. As a visitor to the city it’s up to you to decide how far you’ll venture into Chicago’s seedier neighborhoods — and how you feel about being on film.