SBB installs over 20.000 CCTV cameras in just 8 years, report finds
Research by the SonntagsBlick newspaper has found that Swiss public transport firm Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has massively expanded its surveillance capabilities since 2015. According to the newspaper, the firm installed 14.600 cameras in trains and train stations in 2015 alone and 24.400 in the last eight years. Transport firms praise the cameras for protecting staff, while many individuals continue to raise privacy and consent issues.
SBB says video cameras protect employees
A spokeswoman for SBB told Blick that cameras often come as standard with new trains and equipment. "Video surveillance is part of our security concept. This is therefore an important element for us in order to be able to further increase the safety standard on trains for our employees and customers”, she stated.
The spokeswoman went on to explain that the cameras not only prevent theft but also protect train employees by contacting the police when necessary. "If someone presses the SOS button on the train, images are sent to the transport police's operations control centre for further assistance", the spokeswoman added.
Not everyone feels so positive about cameras on public transport
But not everyone is as positive as SBB’s spokesperson. Francisco Klauser, Professor of Political Geography at the University of Neuchâtel, has been researching the effects of video cameras in public spaces for 20 years and says he has found that surveillance cameras do not make society safer, arguing that crimes committed under the influence of drugs and alcohol are not prevented by CCTV.
"The problems are not solved with cameras, they are simply moved to another location," he told Blick.
Klauser does, however, recognise the evidential value of security cameras, especially when it comes to legal matters. Despite this, he still feels that security cameras are being overused to the detriment of train safety. "In the trains, for example, there are more cameras than before, but there are fewer train attendants… This is a questionable development”, he added.