Technology has rapidly changed surveillance methods in modern-day society, but the basic premise of surveillance has always remained the same. The power and control is in the hands of those watching. Throughout history, it has been the ‘seeing eye’ that has acted as a successful deterrent to criminals; just the thought that someone might be watching has been enough to prevent people from committing crimes. Even now, it is that very thought that makes our security systems so successful. CCTV surveillance, manned guarding and mobile patrols all work not only to protect but to prevent too.
To get a good idea of how far security solutions have come, we can take a look at some of the first measures taken to secure people and their property, back in the 18th Century and discover how they have both guided technological advancements in surveillance and how some of the good old methods are still just as effective…
In the 18th Century, it proved very difficult to find enough men to guard over an entire prison, bearing in mind they didn’t have the luxury of cameras and electric gates we enjoy today. Because of this, it was necessary to explore other ways to keep a prison safe and secure. It was then that English philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed a prison, specially designed to enable the 24/7 surveillance of inmates. In the design of this prison, guards were stationed in a central tower while inmates would remain in cells arranged radially in a multi-story circular prison building. The ‘panopticon’, as it was called, was designed so that prisoners would never be quite sure if and when they were being watched, which, according to French philosopher Michel Foucault, would create in the inmate a sense of ‘conscious and permanent visibility’. They never knew if they were being looked at or not, so behaved themselves just in case they were!
The panopticon effect
In relation to Betham’s creation, contemporary surveillance works in a similar way. The warning that a place might be guarded by monitored CCTV surveillance is often enough of a deterrent on its own, as people will not be aware of whether they are being watched at that exact moment or not. The difference is that these days we have the ability to record too. While manned guarding is visible, there may also be times when the security guard is patrolling the building and cannot be seen, but people will be aware that the guard is there. Often, the guard is placed at the only entrance of the building so that they can observe everyone who approaches or passes by, more than likely seeing them before they see him/her.
The panoptic power lies in the awareness of its presence; it enables observation as well as control by simply creating the illusion that every individual is being constantly monitored, and now, with today’s technology and security solutions, we are able to make that illusion a reality.
At Acclaimed Security, our manned guarding services and mobile patrols are not only effective in that they offer property protection and security, but they have evolved from methods that have been used and developed for centuries thanks to their success. If you are interested in any of the services we offer, please do not hesitate to get in touch, and we can start planning your security system today.