Bengaluru: On any week day, Abdul Wahab’s pocket-size stall in the buzzing Mosque Road in Bengaluru welcomes customers to sizzling seekh kadi (skewers), fahl, veal kebab and other charred beef treats on the barbecue.
His six-to-seven-feet-wide fast-food joint stands out, with two conspicuous CCTV cameras and a screen recording the activities inside and outside, catching glimpses of the city’s vibrant street food culture, and more. “I installed it about 15 days ago to monitor the shop mostly when I am away. I can see the live footage on my phone and keep track of my workers," said Wahab, who paid about ₹ 16,000 to set up the system.
Like others selling food stuff, tea and cigarettes, Wahab’s eatery too is part of the city’s nightlife—a meeting point for cab and auto drivers, besides others—and the network, or vigilance points, for the police to track suspicious activities and other serious crimes.
The Bengaluru traffic police have installed around 170 CCTVs. The command centre at the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city municipality, has another 731, while other public and corporate bodies have set up 400 cameras across the city, said law enforcement authorities.
With rapid technological advancements and access to cheap imports, security gadgets have become less complicated and affordable today. A closer look at the city’s changing urban landscape, including small establishments, will reveal the extent of the use of digital technology in Bengaluru. The H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government is planning to set up CCTV cameras on every street for an estimated cost of ₹ 1,500-2,000 crore.
“Security solutions have become a common feature. CCTV is sold like cherry on top of the cake," said Kari Girish Murthy, managing director, Thasmai Automation Pvt. Ltd, a home automation and security provider. “But CCTVs could mean the end of privacy, if in the wrong hands."
M.N. Anucheth, deputy commissioner of police (administration), said that the increasing use of technology in private establishments is due to the Karnataka Public Safety (Measures) Act, 2017, which prescribes the installation of surveillance systems by owners of such properties and storing video recordings for up to 30 days.
Anucheth said CCTV provides electronic evidence in investigations and serves as a deterrent among criminals. In fact, CCTV footage of the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru gave the special investigation team vital clues in the absence of eyewitnesses.