Computers are arguably the most important technological development by man and are by far developments that find use in nearly all areas of human operations. Developments in information technology and computing has led to the centrality placed on information in strategic planning among business organizations; it is however worth noting that the relevance of computing to security especially surveillance is one of the least appreciated application of computing.
Security and crime have taken on a different dimension as seen in an increase in awareness of cyber crime and on-line illegal activities; the need for information in management of crime is at an all time high considering the levels of organization exhibited by crime organizations and in general security thus surveillance is in need of information.
Understanding the changes brought about by the use of computer in surveillance is important in developing a better understanding and appreciation of one of the greatest development in the history of man. Discussions Developments in computing have played an important part in developing awareness on the role played by information in operations.
It is important to note that there has been an increase in awareness on information and this has been used by surveillance system to develop more awareness on the nature of crime and even criminals (Pollock 67). The ability to move freely is important to attainment of criminal goals; by using the internet and other computer aided information resource like satellites; terrorists like Osama have images that are more popular than presidents which limits the levels of movement that they can attain thus reducing the levels of crime.
It is further important to note that development in information technology have made it possible for surveillance systems to develop large data banks or datawarehouses that link multiple resources and use decision oriented intelligent systems to develop trends that makes it easy to not only monitor trends in crime and criminal activities but also develop awareness on criminals across all surveillance or anticrime agencies. The issuance of terror alerts against certain nations or alarms in the US are largely a result of the trends shown by surveillance systems on trends in crime (Pollock 54).
This is a manifestation of change in surveillance in that the current approaches to surveillance are more information oriented and employ a far much more strategic approach that actual use of fire-power. The developments are both in response to the nature of organized crime and the need to ensure efficiency in the face of increasing complexity of crime. The levels of organization displayed by crime made conventional approaches to surveillance where an agent had to be in close contact with the criminals to gather information regarding their activities ineffective and dangerous on the lives of the agents.
Crime organizations have representatives in nearly all segments of the business sector since terrorist organization like the Hamas make millions of dollars in revenue from’ well-wishers’ (O’Carroll and Ward 58). Criminals employ complex systems of information and are as active as the surveillance mechanism in seeking those that monitor them and information on security system’s vulnerability. It is due to this complexity in management of crime that it has become necessary for all surveillance agencies to employ approaches that rely so much on technology.
Before the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, emails were considered as confidential as one on one conversation. The development that led to the coming into being of the Homeland security department and regulations that sought to increase the levels of security in America have reduced the levels of confidentiality in communication (Pollock 33). Security agencies have the power to scan the content of mails in the US to determine if they pose any threat to US security. Use of credit cards and surveillance cameras has reduced the levels of privacy that individuals can attain.
A simple transaction like the purchase of a triple A battery from a mall can lead to the automatic positioning of an individual; the developments that have been recorded in geospatial positioning in makes it possible to identify the exact position of a target thus high levels of efficiency in surveillance (Pattavina 93). These developments that are in response to technological approaches and levels of organization used in crime and the need to use all available resources to combat crime have led to an increase in interference of surveillance on civil liberties, confidentiality and even individual freedom (Biddle 46).
One of the notable developments with regards to addressing crime in the US is recruitment of graduates and professionals as agents. This is basically a result of the information oriented approach to surveillance that makes it necessary for agencies to be filled with professionals who can effectively use information resources to combat crime. This increase in professionalism that has also been in response to the need to involve more of the society in surveillance is an important development in surveillance with respect to bringing it closer to the society whose needs it seeks to address.
Conclusion Use of computers has led to an increase in the intensity of criminal activities with a corresponding increase in the use of computer resources in management of crime. Though civil liberties and rights may at times be ignored in surveillance, the aim in surveillance is still relevant to social causes. Professionalism in surveillance is highly correlated with use of computers and high information intensity in operations; this is a positive development that should be built on to ensure security threats are addressed in a global environment prone to crime.
Biddle, Stephen. Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004. O’Carroll, Patrick and Ward, Elizabeth. Public health informatics and information systems. New York, NY: Springer, 2003. Pattavina, April. Information technology and the criminal justice system. Boca Raton, FL: SAGE, 2004. Pollock, George. Fevers and cultures: lessons for surveillance, prevention and control. New York, NY: Radcliffe Publishing, 2003.