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Surveillance : monitoring the world

Surveillance : monitoring the world

The word surveillance is French and literally means "to keep a watch over" but the term has been applied to all types of monitoring products including covert listening devices (bugs), phone tapping devices, electronic surveillance methods such as Internet and desktop monitoring, GPS tracking systems and even postal intervention.

Many people consider surveillance to be a fairly modern concept but it has a history as extensive as civilization itself. Various references to surveillance have been documented throughout the ages from the description of spies in The Art of War , written by Sun Tzu 2,500 years ago, to the pre-Civil war era of George Washington when slaves were monitored using passes and armed patrols. Surveillance has always been used as a form of security and control, it has simply evolved with the rest of the world.


The advance of digital surveillance systems

Modern technology has meant that surveillance has become more widespread and the more technology advances, the easier, cheaper and more convenient it becomes to monitor people. Digital technology is one of the more recent developments in surveillance systems and products and has made it possible to access any system over the Internet from a remote location anywhere in the world. Improved digital video quality, smaller cameras and motion sensors are just some of the advances in surveillance technology.

Often the term surveillance is used to describe the act of monitoring individuals or groups of people by those in a position of authority but surveillance technology has become much more affordable and readily available to anyone who wants it. This has meant that surveillance has moved into the home where it is used for all sorts of observation goals from catching an unfaithful spouse to deterring criminals from breaking into the house.

Increased video surveillance technology has also meant an increase in counter surveillance technology. It is no longer enough to avoid public cameras; modern counter surveillance demands a fairly in-depth knowledge of how computers work (in order to avoid electronic surveillance, hackers and others) to knowing where to look for hidden cameras.

This website aims to cover the basics of modern surveillance equipment that is widely available to the general public for both personal use and business related applications.