Science of Surveillance

Science of Surveillance

2006, Technology  -   37 Comments
Ratings: 8.00/10 from 41 users.

Science of SurveillanceFrom every cell phone call to every credit card swipe, we leave an electronic trail. But at what price?

Explorer takes viewers into the disturbing world of surveillance technology and scans the latest and future technologies used to even spy on the private lives of citizens.

From London's CCTVs to infra-technology equipped helicopters that search the streets of New York City, the documentary shows the inner workings of these surveillance systems.

In today's information-overloaded and fear-driven society, surveillance technology seems to be deployed almost everywhere - and a surveillance mind-set is just as ubiquitous.

This program introduces the concept of a "surveillance society" and shows how cutting-edge tools are being developed to identify, monitor, and track both people and objects.

Viewers are empowered to explore the central paradox of surveillance technology, that it seems to bring advantages, making us safer and our lives more convenient, but at what cost to privacy and individual freedoms?

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37 Comments / User Reviews

  1. PrivateI

    People need to dump the surveillance entities (you know who they are: FB, Twitter, google, etc. etc.) and keep their landline phones instead of the spy-devices known as "smart phones." Nobody forced them to get hooked on all these surveillance systems! But they chose to give up their privacy, security and freedoms so they could be "IN" with the "IN crowd." Dump them all!

  2. Cliff

    Idiots that are not old enough to see the change in lost of liberty. Why did we rather have if not freedom ( give me death or freedom. FDR said the enemy has won if we live in fear. Our government has spread more terror than the so called enemy! In the early 1980’s we could walk our family to the boardinding of the plain, 1970 you could walk to the plain. We are controlled by fear!

  3. Cliff

    We are slaves. They do not care about our safety. They Live We Sleep? As you turn on your smart tv and watch they watch back. TV Eye on all

  4. flybow

    The cctv that never works when a "terrorist" event happens.

  5. Anonymous

    Even though the documentary is ten years old at the moment of watching, it shows how much the government and it's organs can do in terms of surveillance and tracking. You can imagine what the technology is look at the technological improvement in the same ten year time period.
    This type of surveillance will not help prevent crime. Criminals will be forced to find loopholes in the surveillance system. Even a simple disguise would work. It also makes room for a new type of crime: hacking. Hacking isn't new at all, but this sure is a perfect environment for them.

    Whether this type of surveillance is a tool of high positioned maniacs or not, is for you to decide.

    If they really want to stop criminality for the good of their people, they would've spend the research and production money on the prevention of crime rather than arresting and punishing.

  6. Rohyp Gnosis

    No CCTV/stills have ever been released of the group of 7/7 bombers. All pics published in the press, made available in the Public Enquiry, and therefore used in this documentary that show the group of men were from the 'dummy run' they did the week before. Rather odd that innit? Also, it's odd that no attempt was ever made to track the black car clearly seen on CCTV on both the dummy run and on 7/7 that accompanied the alleged bombers' car to the Luton car park, (that CCTV, of their car, was released...but oddly none showing any identifiable faces...despite several cameras at that station.

    The CCTV cameras in the UK are not, therefore, being used to 'fight the crimes' that this documentary suggests!

  7. UAS_SA

    The documentary's main topic was about surveillance and explained the technology the surround constantly from the simple CCTV cameras we see place edge to street pavements to the most technologically advanced 3D face recognition software used to track 100 to thousands of people a once. Personally the most interesting technology of them all was the Back- scatter and the Iris recognition. The Documentary, while spoke of many of the technological advance that have lead to many advantages such as alienating issue with security the enforcement of rules and laws, often times that the technology has been found to provide minor changes, no changes or even misused for a companies gain, and governments to abolish the factors of privacy. The technology that we currently use today and that will advance in the future were portrayed in the documentary accurately, from explaining incidence where it proves surveillance has being at a disadvantage and other scenarios where they prove to bestow advantages to citizens and government that see the need to use surveillance.

  8. UAS_NE

    The issue of surveillance is thoroughly explained, and shown in this documentary, especially with Technology such as the 3D-Imagery and 3D-Facial Recognition, Back-scatter, Infrared Cameras in Vehicles, the ID Implants, and the Iris Recognition. Yes they all have positives motives by the government in search of the best possible ways to suppress crime, but we have to look at facts. Like they say, statistics and facts don't lie. as the documentary said on multiple occasions, the amount of CCTV cameras in London has not stopped crime, it helps solve it but there is no prevention, there still is a lack of security despite the fact that people see them as tools of security. Also most of the new technology doesn't come cheap, it will cost a lot to have an effective amount. When it comes to the point where many people will have the RF-ID chips inserted into them, the person no longer has any privacy, although everything that is on the chip is the persons own intellectual property, whats to stop someone from using that information. In a world where everyone knows everything about everyone else, there is nothing to hide, nothing to gain, i can't even imagine a world like that. Where people even know when I'm at the cinema, or in a restaurant. Also globalization could even occur at a faster rate, when its possible for everyone to see what someone in Mongolia is doing, or what someone in the US is doing, some people would try to copy famous people, and there wont be anything different about us, about our culture. In the documentary, there was a case when the police officer continued using the infrared camera's and surveillance to watch a famous director do something privately, that is something that everyone prefers to keep to themselves, rather than have it on the news, its wrong, this is when reliability and trust come into the equation, should we trust the government and police with this type of technology? In the book 1984 by George Orwell, he has predicted that the world would come to a stage in which the government would be unstoppable, they would have absolute power over everyone, they could dictate what we believed, and when to believe it or when to forget it, and there was no way out, other than death. As time goes on, the similarities between the setting of the book and the world increase.

    In conclusion i believe that this is the wrong way forward for our society and world, but i still believe that we can't prevent it, they should have listened to Orwell earlier.

  9. Asif Z


    The most interesting piece of technology in this video would be the 3-D face recognition. The second would be the RFID implants. This video conveys he surveillance used today and for the future.

    It conveys the different ways to identify each person, individually. The documentary shows how the CCTV cameras monitor every single person in the UK. It does have problems with privacy since it watches everyday lives, and it actually isn't able to completely stop crimes. If a hacker hacks into the cameras, he/she could stalk people and know a lot about the person's average day and activities. The facial recognition could identify specific people, but the camera needs a good angle of the person. If it doesn't have the 8 key points of the face, the facial recognition can't identify the person. That is the reason that the 3D facial recognition has been created. It is a 3D facial image of a person and can be used to identify people at the different angles, but it isn't used fully, yet.

  10. UAS_FA

    Out of all the aspects covered by the Science of Surveillance documentary, i believe that the most interesting one would be having the chip injected into your body acting as a type of identification card. i personally would never have a chip injected into my body because this limits all sorts of privacy. Also, you can never be sure of what this chip contains and who is watching your every move.

    I think that having surveillance cameras comes with a few advantages and also some disadvantages. Its great for catching criminals which makes a safer atmosphere, but also, it invades peoples privacy. especially in London, there are CCTV cameras literally everywhere. this gives people no privacy and it makes people insecure knowing that someone is watching their every move. also, surveillance cameras may sometimes get hacked by criminals and peoples information can be leaked, leading to many sorts of crimes.

  11. UAS_CO

    The following video definitely introduces how surveillance is used today and how it will be used very soon as well, it shows many disadvantages as well as its advantages so it is not coming from one point of view alone.

    Its hard to accept how CCTV's and security cameras are beginning to capture all of our movements, where we go, when and with who etc. As much as this concept is alarming one must remember that it is not as bad as it seems as there are 7 billion people on the planet,governments can never possibly be watching us on a 24/7 basis and be analyzing our actions, displacements etc as individuals. This is why I believe that as much as this affects one's privacy governments don't really care about what you're doing at home or whether you're going to the supermarket at 12:00pm. They put surveillance for these reasons: Security, making statistics and studies about people's actions (which is the one that is alarming), and catching terrorists. The problem is that the government will never ask for your permission to be watched, we are all being watched, heard against our will and we have no authority over that. George Orwell's (the author of 1984) predictions are starting to show in this very generation.

    I think that there must be a limit to all of this surveillance because governments are starting to play God, we deserve the right to our privacy as individuals but how can we say we know freedom when we're being analyzed even in your own homes through our phone calls and especially the moment we leave your homes...

  12. uas_cl

    I believe that this documentary has done a fantastic job at outlining the benefits and drawbacks of the technology which has been implemented in the society we live in today, especially when it comes to surveillance.
    Of course, it is reassuring to know that these systems have been put to use in order to ensure public safety.

    This being said, is this a benefit which totally outweighs the numerous drawbacks which are brought forth as a result of the implementation of these systems? The methods of surveillance which were outlined in this documentary can, in some cases, be seen as downright invasions of privacy which cannot be excused no matter what the reason for surveillance is in the first place.

    Finally, something which I have noticed in this documentary is that this particular system leads to what I perceive to be the dehumanization of society. Surveillance systems store information on different people in society, where they become just another record in a database.

  13. UAS_MT

    Surveillance has many advantages and disadvantages.

    Nowadays, we can find CCTV cameras can be found in bus stops, restaurants, ATMs, shops, streets, banks, etc. These cameras are monitored by real life security personnel in order to deter crimes and rapidly identify offenders. So if a crime occurs in an establishment that has installed CCTV surveillance, investigation will be aided by the video. Unfortunately, CCTV doesn't always work. Even if the cameras are positioned correctly, there is no guarantee that the cameras will catch any crime or unwanted behavior done on the property.
    However, now we know that we've been been captured by a surveillance camera somewhere along the way. This invades the understanding of privacy with constant video monitoring. Employees under constant surveillance by CCTV cameras often oppose such monitoring of their daily behavior.

  14. UAS_RS

    After watching the documentary I still support surveillance as Its original use is to stop crimes before happening and identify the criminals. However as the means of surveillance advance it leads to privacy issues as it could be used for other purposes. In the end it all depends on the agencies using it.

  15. UAS_MW

    I think that the idea of surveillance in general is useful becauses it truly does benefit the society by keeping them safe. The extent to which we are being watched right now has gone too far. It is a huge invasion of privacy. The media is under full control by these same people who set up all these surviellance eqquipment and the fact that we are allowed to watch such a documentary implies the scary, highly possible idea that intelligence agencies such as the MI6 and the CIA have much more powerful technologies to keep us watched 24/7 in extreme detail. It is naive to think that the NYPD and the CIA use the same technonlgy for national security.

  16. romran

    I support surveillance in some way, for example, to catch criminals that harm the community and to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the country, but i also find it intruding if they use it to spy on us wherever we go such as private places such asthe bathroom for example.

  17. UAS_1234

    The primary effect of surveillance in most of its forms appears to be deterring and acting upon small crime. From this perspective it is an effective measure. However, important events often lead to a myriad of auxilliary privacy issues, and some were unable to be prevented despite the use of surveillance. As such, it appears that the opportunity cost for this issue is too high. -V

  18. SD_UAS

    Soon before we know everybody in this world can be tracked and identified. Everyone will be identified with the camera's in the streets and also the RFID chips that might be installed in every human. This would have its advantages and disadvantages. An advantage would be reducing crime rate by a huge rate. An disadvantage would be invasion of privacy because everyone can be tracked and actions can be monitored.

  19. UAS_AS

    In my opinion, surveillance is an important measure in order to ensure safety and security of the public, however as many before me said, it isn't the surveillance that is in question, however it is the authorities that are using the surveillance systems, and what boundaries they draw for themselves. If the system is used for its original reason, that is, capturing criminals, then that should be the only reason they are used. It shouldn't be used to invade other people's privacy, for example the incident with the surveillance helicopter capturing a video of a private terrace is an unethical use of the system.

  20. UAS_1234

    Despite the fact that such outstanding technologies have various drawbacks and positives, the technologies may also be horrific in the sense that your privacy and security are in high risk. That being said, I believe that we need to implement such large concepts, or systems however, the issues mentioned regarding privacy and secuirty are merely a result of today's society and is in no way the IT system's issue. After all, any IT system, or anything in general may be misused. I believe that we should not only go ahead with such technologies, however, we must strive to create more innovative systems for today's society yet we must never forget to prevent aspects such as hacking, data matching, data mining, identity theft and more.


    Cameras keep us on our toes! When my place of employment installed cameras everything got better, things change when they are observed

  22. joy Kudasik

    Take the time to check out who actually owns national geographic tv. The same individuals and corporations that are 'watching us' are also the ones controlling the media --- including this documentary. Viewer discretion and research advised. Perhaps it is a fair warning or a just slap in the face. not sure.

  23. ShadowMan

    ....Just finished watching and now feel that we are being conditioned whether we like it or not. ...Long ago, sitting by a river with your loved one, watching the slow moving river glide along, no cameras, a world of horse and carts, maybe a prying eye of someone hiding behind a bush at you both, you sit by that river with your loved one, you are seen from the sky, seen from almost every horizontal position by CCTV, your ever conversation is heard, (secretly) from the implanted chip in your brain.

    ….Sitting by that river in 100 years time, you received your pass from the authorities in having your permitted time to sit by that river, your implanted chip will notify you 5 minutes prior to your expiry time of the ending of the river session, upon the ending of the session, you will carry out the other schedule timed activities that you input into the government futuristic biological monitor from your sent brain chip readings, (this is all in accordance to law) these activities are carried out in the zone you were entitled to, (yellow zone in this case.) The days of getting away from the world will be well and truly over, the future, there will be no “getting away”, your children will be content with the world as it is, and there is no need to get away, for getting away means independent thought which will be removed to pave the way for the ultimate goal of a planned ‘hive society”, that is planned for your children before they are born, quite simply, your children will be your children, but their mind will serve the 'hive!"

  24. toddy potseed

    This is very scary. Big brother is here. George Orwell wasn't too far off with his vision of the future.

  25. scottyladdy

    Th attack in London was a 'false flag"" and the bombers I believe thought they were taking part in an exercise. later The same day four people were shot at canary warf in London-were these the same suspected bombers?
    This whole event gave the government the excuses they needed to step up surveillance, all in the name of 'terrorism". This documentary sounds like it actually is some kind of public PR for this technology and to make it more acceptable to the masses. It is not acceptable at all.But it's too late, we have all been led a lie.There is nothing we can do to change things -it's too late.

  26. Plenum

    This is Civilian-level Training for the Police State we are more and more becoming, and made less for the information than for the attitude and intimidation it provides.

  27. Fecioru Florin

    Everything I've seen here is hideous.

  28. hanorabrennan

    Communications are no longer safe. TV and the satellites that enable their communication can be hacked by demonic paranoid governments and we've witnessed a lot of this since 9/11. It'll get worse but I'll have shoved off at that stage (I hope).

  29. Glen Hale

    OF course if Jon Corzine et al is tracked by 1 million cameras they still won't be caught and fined/jailed.

  30. sknb

    I want to go live in a cave in the woods after seeing this

  31. Spooky S

    i live in the uk,i feel more uneasy now there is CCtv as when there wasnt,right outside my house,standing on my doorstepi see 2 immediate CCTV,i walk 50 years ,or 1 minute walk i will of been in view of over 15 to 20 CCTV!

  32. Phillip Pelling

    Who is going to protect us from them ?????????

  33. PaulGloor

    Interesting technology to be sure. With great power comes great responsibility though.

  34. Matt Kukowski

    The regular garage hackers of the world (free software hackers) will always have and create tools to keep the source code in public hands. Transparent code that anyone can use.

    But, Surveillance is used as much more of a Military term. To spy, collect intel on the enemy for fear and paranoia. This IS a bad thing.

    The Internet is making everything transparent more and more BOTH ways... Public EYE looking at Govt ... and Govt spying on Govt radicals.

  35. fonbindelhofas

    Is this propaganda supposed to convince me that this mad surveillance is ok? that police states are cool? lol this surveillance is only one of many tools criminal elites use to protect themselfs.
    no such thing as "Science of Surveillance" only science in hands of psychopaths fascinated with control

    1. Fabien L

      Surveillance is not mad by itself, it's only as good or bad as the people using it. It can also be totally ineffective as it was on 9/11.

    2. batvette

      Does it help when a good part of the country, for political capital or stupidity, are demanding to know why George W. Bush did not act on a terribly vague PDTB and expected the government to have a "pre crime" force ready to stop 9 /11 as it happened?
      Seems to me they are only acting to fulfill the expectations of unreasonable critics.