I’ve struggled for a few days about whether to write about Boston or not. I decided to write this because I think there are valuable lessons to be learned. I’m not claiming to be on top of every detail or to have any non-public information.
First, my heart goes out to all the victims. I really enjoy running road races, and I can visualize how crazy that scene must have been. It’s terrible to have such a large accomplishment tarnished by such a selfish act. Many of the most generous people I know are runners. It’s been awesome to see people come together to help those affected.
Professionally, there were a few things that I think we as a society and industry can learn from, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.
First, this article had a line that really caught my eye. Chad Casassa said: “I’m sure when they did install that video surveillance system, they weren’t planning on catching something like this.”
I’ll bet he’s right. Capturing images of the two suspects in such a high profile case probably never crossed the mind of the camera owner (end user) or the designer of the system before it was installed. I wonder if they had thought of something so important in the design and purchase phase if they would have chosen to engineer the surveillance system to perform at a higher level. At the end of the day, the police were able to piece together images to distribute to the public with key input from an eyewitness.
However, since the images captured left a lot to the imagination, these suspects were left at large for a few days, with the younger brother attending a party at his campus and attending classes unnoticed. This quote from Pamala Rolon was extremely troubling: “We made a joke like, that could be Dzhokar. But then we thought it just couldn’t be him. Dzhokar? Never.” Perhaps his classmates positively identifying him wouldn’t have changed anything at all. Perhaps it would have saved Sean Collier’s life. It’s easy to say in retrospect that if you even remotely think your friend or classmate could be the suspect, CALL THE AUTHORITIES!!! What could it hurt? For any of you out there, if you ever see an image of a wanted man that looks like me, please please please call the police and give them my name.
I’ll go back to my earlier point: If those images Dzhokar’s friends saw on the news were more definitive, would they have called the police? Would higher resolution cameras turn “that could be Dzhokar” to “that’s Dzhokar?”
That’s probably an impossible question to answer. I do take responsibility for bringing these ideas up to potential customers when talking about surveillance. Setting realistic expectations helps me sleep better at night, even if an end user decides to sacrifice greater detail in exchange for a lower price tag. I feel that if I sell systems based on low cost on purpose, only to have the user disappointed the first time they review an incident, I’ve failed.
I hope I’ve brought a little bit of knowledge out of the background for the average person. Since I’ve started writing, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people that have nothing to do with the industry. To me, that’s the most exciting thing that’s happened so far out of this effort.
As always, I would love to hear what you think about this via comments, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.