The success of failure

Accounting for the global growth of CCTV

Authored by: Clive Norris

Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415588836
eBook ISBN: 9780203814949
Adobe ISBN: 9781136711077


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In 1999 in an article entitled “The eyes have it: CCTV as the ‘fifth utility’,” Stephen Graham predicted that the development of CCTV was likely to mirror that of the major public utilities of water, gas, electricity and telecommunications that had emerged during the nineteenth century. The rapid rise of the traditional utilities was fuelled by demands for improved public health through the provision of clean water and reliable sewage management and of lighting in both city streets and the domestic home, and the commercial advantages and instantaneous communications afforded by the telephone and telegraph. In the nineteenth century, once the utilities were in place in one town or suburb, neighboring areas, fuelled by civic pride or the need for competitive advantage, soon followed suit. However economies of scale dictated that the initial plethora of local providers rapidly combined, through merger and takeover, to provide city wide, regional and even national coverage.

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