As it is with most cases where CCTV has been installed in Australian cities, the driving force has been the Chamber of Commerce in a quest to revitalise the CBD and enhance retail life. It is also an attempt to counter the results of previous planning decisions which have drained life from the town centre by encouraging Mall development elsewhere. In this regard Gosford finds itself in a predicament similar to many cities around the world.
Like other cities Gosford seems to be trying to compete by becoming more like the shopping Malls (which are becoming more like small cities), albeit outdoor, but with the same range of customer services, franchises and entertainments presented in a neat, controlled, designed, brand-identity ambience. Malls are private space, but now our Councils want to make our public space in the image of the private Mall.
Clearly an occasion for joy and celebration (perhaps Mayor Laurie Maher and Council General Manager Peter Wilson are dreaming of their trip to Japan and Slovenia in August)
Projects of beautification and tidiness are being applied to street-scapes and people alike. Recently in Gosford (16th of June) it was very difficult to find the Book Fair because the Rangers had removed all the signs.
The awfulisers work away
Awfulising public places,
Favourite things and little graces
Awfulising lovely treasures
Common joys and simple pleasures
Awfulising far and near
The parts of life we held so dear
Democratic, clean and lawful
Awful, awful, awful, awful.
(Michael Leunig. 1997)
I am reminded of a story which told how Roll Royce took an early version of the automatic gearbox developed by a US auto maker and improved it by re-engineering the rough edges to a smooth precise finish, only to find that it no longer worked. They discovered that apparent imperfection, a little abrasion, is necessary. Perhaps the same is true of urban life.
It is interesting to note that a recent court ruling in the US upheld the rights of a group being prosecuted for holding its political protest in a shopping mall, on the grounds that society has reached a point where the ‘private property’ space of a mall is understood as public.
Private security guard surveys the opening crowd.
Now our village greens, our traditionally known public spaces, are becoming privatised and the personally private nature of experience in public space is disappearing.
But do people care? Most people seem to be happy in the thought that CCTV surveillance makes the streets safer. There seems to be little hard evidence that this is the case, so perhaps it is merely the perception that counts. However if you are counting dollars ($320,000), it is reasonable to ask whether resources could not be better allocated to addressing the causes of crime and assisting both the community, and potential offenders, through community policing.
It was announced on Friday that Gosford street cleaners have been trained in "multi-tasking" and are part of the security team.
Research indicates that CCTV surveillance does not in itself reduce crime, but is likely to move it from the town centre to the suburbs, although it can be of use in investigating misdemeanors after the event, but psychopaths and chemically unstable individuals are not likely to be rationally considering apprehension before they act, and calculating criminals will have planned to avoid the cameras.
Who’re you lookin’ at!
All the worlds a stage, and you are “on”. So now is your chance to let the inner exhibitionist out. But consider your appearance and behaviour carefully – you are being scrutinised. Do you know how that funny habit you have, when you think you are alone, will be interpreted? And what do you know about the person who can zoom in on any part of your body without you knowing?
We live in a State of Emergency which, as we know, “justifies” any measures.
How to be not “seen”
Don’t be an attractive female.
Do not deviate from preconceived norms of Gosford appearance and behaviour. Do not wear a hoodie.
Do not be ‘ethnic’, coloured, or make extravagant bodily gestures and/or laugh too loudly.
But lets not be negative. This is your chance to star!