Watch the birdie

20 July 2010
Surveillance equipment suppliers must be experiencing a mini boom, judging by the determination of UK public sector organisations to keep an eye on us. Worcestershire County Council has spent £1,000 on a “lolli-cam” – a tiny device embedded in the black strip on the lollipop sign used by crossing helpers outside schools – to catch out motorists who don’t stop. At Blackpool Victoria hospital security staff now wear cameras on their body armour to deter assailants. HT isn’t sure which it finds more shocking – that staff need to record incidents for use in court, or that they are assaulted regularly enough to need body armour. And in Coventry the council has used a speech and movement monitoring system in the nightlife hotspot to alert bouncers and police to trouble brewing. The technology, called Sigard, analyses sound and other information for signs of threatening behaviour. Want to buy wine in a Pennsylvania supermarket? Look into the camera, swipe your driving licence and take a breath test, please. Vending machine supplier Simple Brands has found a way round the state’s alcohol sales laws that allow booze to be sold only by public employees: use CCTV to approve sales remotely through a sophisticated vending machine. An ingenious bit of vendor innovation if HT ever saw one.
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