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Watch yourself! You’re entering Australia’s Parliament

Watch yourself! You’re entering Australia’s Parliament

[lightbox /images/parlhouse.jpg[Parliament House Protestors – photo by Eric Li]]Parliament House Protestors - photo by Eric Li[/lightbox]As video surveillance cameras multiply, so do the number of observers secretly watching.  Parliament House in Canberra is boosting CCTV by 25% or more,  to 500-plus units.  Soon even more hidden eyes in the building’s bowels will slide from side to side noting your every move.  Welcome to the future – a world of video, where you are the star performer, constantly.

  Caught on video…in your own house

In the next few years, more than 500 CCTV cameras will monitor and record on video every corridor witticism or whisper, every sniff and sneeze, of every visitor and worker at Parliament House in Canberra.

From the car park to the cafe, you’ll be spied on constantly in the big house in the national capital owned by every Australian.

The number of CCTV cameras will be up 25 per cent or more on the 400 or so now installed. The video spying system is on top of supervision of Australian Federal Police and Australian Protective Service officers, as well as parliamentary guards and guides.

In the past decade, the Australian Parliament has been increasingly closed off from Australians. People’s places have been shrinking.

Bollards and barriers now stop cars driving near entrances to the building.  Parents and children are banned from the rolling slopes of manicured grass tumbling down from the flag tower. Police on foot and bikes incessantly patrol the perimeter roads.

Zealous officers and protective service personnel quiz innocent protesters standing silently, alone, in a special area designated specifically by the Parliament for people to express their point of view. You can get yourself a federal police record for life in Australia just for holding up a sign asking China to allow freedom of expression in Tibet.  Ironic, isn’t it?

Hidden control room operatives tucked away in the bowels of the building already spy on movements in most public spaces. Over the next few years, there’ll be more cameras, more operatives and more sophisticated video search facilities letting the police search for just one face in the video crowd, in real time or after the event.

In bureaucrat-speak, here’s what the new system will do – information taken from a current tender request:
    The Department of Parliamentary Services seeks to replace the existing CCTV management and recording systems to improve efficiencies by the introduction of technologies used by current systems to:
    a) allow for encoding, switching, control and recording of a minimum of 500 CCTV cameras;
    b) allow the selective introduction of video analytics such as motion detection, unattended and stationary object;
    c) introduce improved video encoding techniques to reduce physical storage requirements;
    d) make use of interactive floor and camera coverage plans;
    e) improve flexibility and ease of operation;
    f) improve file management and video search abilities; and
    g) increase the market options for future replacement cameras and system enhancements.

If you’re interested, expressions of interest close 26 September 2008.
Don’t know who to contact with your tender response? Just go to the parliament building with your document – they’ll spot you.


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