Limerick City and County Council’s investment in new CCTV cameras has raised concerns about privacy. The 44 new cameras will be the latest generation of ‘smart’ CCTV, allowing for number plate identification, analytic capabilities and footfall recognition. Camera streams will also be accessible on smart phones for authorised users.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has raised concerns about the proliferation of CCTV cameras and the use of new, smart technology.
“The ICCL is concerned regarding the expanding use of smart CCTV systems in Ireland,” the ICCL’s Elizabeth Farries told Limerick Life. “As the technological capacity for surveillance increases, it must remain in check with the fundamental rights of the people living here. CCTV information captured by agencies in pursuit of crime detection must be balanced against our guaranteed right to privacy.”
“Digital information collection that is generalised, not targeted to a specific person suspected of a crime, and not disclosed, may run afoul of the EU law and human rights norms governing Irish legislation.”
Ms Farries is the ICCL’s Information Rights Project Manager and she also works with the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO).
Questions have also been raised about the cost of the new cameras. The Council will pay around €350,000 for 44 cameras to be installed in 24 locations across 14 towns in the county. There will also be an upgrade to the CCTV monitoring facility at Moyross Community Enterprise Centre.
While the Council has stressed that this is good value for money, the exact cost per camera is not known. The €350,000 figure is also an estimate. The tender was won by local company Roadbridge.
SenSys, a leading company in smart network technology that also provides CCTV cameras, told this newspaper that €350,000 seemed like a large amount for just 44 cameras over 24 locations. However, without seeing the details of Roadbridge’s quote, a spokesperson for SenSys could not go into details. The firm did suggest that SenSys could provide a cheaper alternative.
The Council has stressed that the new cameras are for public safety and are worth the investment. Limerick’s Gardaí also welcomed the new cameras as an addition to their crime-fighting efforts.
“We have seen over the past number of years the benefit of having CCTV around the city,” Garda Chief Superintendent David Sheahan said. “It has been very beneficial to us in crime investigation and detection and from that point of view this project is going to transform crime investigation and detection in the county.”
“This is for the community, it’s not for the Garda Síochána, and how to make communities safe places to live, and that is our core objective, our core strategy for the last number of years. Working with the local authority and the CCTV project is bringing another piece of work to fruition.”