WHEN a person jumps off the Mactan bridge or when a crime is committed, local officials often mention security cameras as an action to help deter similar incidents.
When there is a traffic violation or garbage resurfaces at the Guadalupe river a day after a cleanup, there is talk of using closed-circuit television (CCTV) or surveillance with the use of cameras to catch violators.
This recent push for the CCTV gives the impression that for almost every problem in the metropolis, security cameras are seen as part of the prevention.
The death of a 16-year-old boy who jumped off the first Mandaue-Mactan bridge Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, was not the first such incident to happen there. There have been other deaths in that or the other bridge in recent weeks. In every suicide there, local officials talk of having CCTV.
In the case of the boy who jumped Sunday, he was seen in a CCTV footage in the area moments before his death. The surveillance camera reportedly captured his presence at about 2 a.m. but his death was discovered only after the boy’s body was found in another location by about 5 a.m.
The security camera was not able to prevent suicide or no one was watching the monitors, otherwise, the suicide would have been discovered earlier, although not necessarily prevented.
It was a different ending for another 16-year-old, a girl this time, who wanted to jump off the bridge Sunday night but police personnel were able to stop her.
Then, there was the case of the Guadalupe river that was cleaned Saturday, Aug. 17, but authorities found garbage again in the same area the next day. Someone suggested that a security camera be installed in order to catch on video those who continue to throw garbage to the river.
These incidents and the response of local officials to install or use security cameras show how technology is helping fight crime. These cameras provide video recordings of what transpires within a property, whether a home, business office or a public place like a bridge. They are also getting to be affordable as technology makes cameras cheaper.
But it is tempting to think the CCTV is a solution. No, it is just a tool. Like a tool, its effectiveness depends on the way it is used.
What is the purpose of a security camera when no one is monitoring what it captures on video? Why get a security camera when it cannot function well because of a lack of server space or internet connection?
For some, having those cameras is the same as having a warning posted on the gate to beware of dogs inside the property. There may or may not be dogs, and the hope is that the sign itself would discourage illegal entry. Sometimes it works but it does not do much when a crime is committed.
The CCTV is more than a gate sign saying “beware of dogs.” Use it well.