Security is a vital need for everyone in order to protect ourselves. One such technique to ensure our security is surveillance. Surveillance is the continuous, secretive observation of persons, places, things, etc. in order to gain information. In countless ways, surveillance is emerging as the dominant way the modern world organises itself. In one form or the other, surveillance has always been a part of the human society.
Surveillance is very useful to government, and law enforcement in order to maintain social threats, criminal activities, etc.
There are two types of surveillance:
Physical and Technical
Physical surveillance is carried out by enemy personnel on foot and/or by vehicle. It is the only way a target person can be observed continuously over an extended period of time. This form of physical surveillance is the main source of intelligence on people’s thoughts, plans & activities. It is sometimes referred to as ‘human intelligence’. Because of the sensitive nature of personal information they are able to gather, and their ability to influence events, infiltrators & informants are especially dangerous.
Technical surveillance is far more common now a days. With widespread use of telecommunication, technical surveillance is a main source of intelligence on a person’s day to day activities, contacts, relationships, etc. it consists of technical devices to record, document or monitor a target individual’s movements, conversations, or activities. This includes listening devices in homes & cars, tapped telephones, monitoring of internet activity, CCTV video, tracking devices, night-vision devices, etc.
The urban environment is far more conductive to surveillance. In the city, there are almost tens of thousands of CCTV video cameras, in streets, schools, banks, offices, malls, etc.
Technical surveillance is the use of devices or technologies to monitor and/or record the activities of a target. Today, technical surveillance is widespread in society, due to the ongoing development of new technologies and equipment.
Telephones: telephones can be made into active listening devices through a technique known as hook switch bypass, even when not in use. Cellular or cordless phones are among the least secure forms of communication as they can be intercepted by commercially available scanners.
Internet and computers: like cell phones, the internet is a very insecure form of communication. Emails you send or the websites you visit on your personal computer, can be intercepted, just like a phone call. If your computer is ever seized by the police, they can access large amount of data, even if you have deleted it. This is because instead of actually deleting items, your computer’s hard drive only overwrites data as it needs to. Keystroke loggers can be installed on computers, enabling surveillance to read everything you have typed. In addition, when you are online with your computer, software programs can be covertly downloaded onto your computer that enable another computer to access it and gather information.
Listening devices: Audio surveillance is one of the main methods of recording conversations for both intelligence gathering as well as criminal charges. In fact, multi-million dollar investigations and trials are often based almost entirely on recorded conversations (people caught making incriminating statements to either undercover cops or informants). Listening devices, also known as bugs, are usually small microphones attached to a transmitter & an energy source that are placed in a residence, workplace, vehicle, etc. They can be as small as 1.5” x 1”. They transmit to a receiver, which is usually in the area (i.e., a nearby observation post/vehicle). The proximity of the receiver will depend on the effective range of the device.
Video cameras: Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is one of the most widespread examples of technical surveillance in society. In every city there are tens of thousands of CCTV video cameras, in stores, banks, malls, offices, schools, transit, streets & intersections.
For surveillance operations, miniature CCTV video cameras are also routinely used. They have filmed people making and selling drugs, weapons, & bombs, as well as making incriminating statements.
Mini-CCTV cameras can be as small as a dime in diameter (with a small pin-hole aperture). Like listening devices, mini-video cameras can be hidden in almost anything, including a pager, a teddy bear, a VCR, a clock, a radio, a smoke detector, etc. (such devices are available on the commercial market). In apartments or motel rooms, or any adjoining structures, surveillance teams can gain access and drill a pin-hole through walls, ceilings or floors, and insert a pin-hole camera (as is done during barricaded suspect situations). Mini-CCTV devices must have a power source & a transmitter to relay the information to a nearby monitor—the surveillance team (or recorder). Like a listening device, the power source may be a battery or it may be directly wired to a residence or vehicle power supply. Sophisticated video cameras also have night-vision. Powerful video cameras are also mounted on helicopters, planes and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). These vehicles can hover or circle an area at very high altitudes, virtually out of sight and sound range, and still identify an individual’s face.
Now a days, even at homes there are surveillance cameras and burglar alarms and alarm systems to ensure the safety of the family or an individual.