Back in the late 1990s, two movies -- "Edtv" and "The Truman Show" -- told very different stories about the challenges of living one's life under the constant eye of cameras. Both movies told the story of men who were on TV 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a form of entertainment. They both involve story lines in which the lead characters become disenchanted with always being on camera.
Flash forward to 2017. It's unlikely anyone reading this is on television 24/7, but if you departed your home this morning and went anywhere, there's a pretty good chance at least a part of your day was captured by someone's camera. Security video systems are getting less and less expensive, so even small businesses and homeowners can have multiple cameras with digital recorders documenting every moment.
What’s the point?
The installation of cameras on Bentonville school buses add to the safety of schoolchildren.
The trip to the grocery store? You're on camera. A withdrawal from an ATM. Smile! Plop down $50 and you can have a dash cam installed on your car, capturing every moment of traffic in front of your car and, in some cases, behind. And let's not forget smart phones: It's been a decade since the first iPhone came out and other manufacturers have produced with similar devices, ensuring most people are walking around with cameras capable of videos and still images.
We are in a world in which almost every incident of significance produces video.
When we read last week that the Bentonville School District will install cameras on those big yellow vehicles transporting a most precious cargo -- the community's children -- it seemed a natural extension of where we are as a society, and for a good reason.
The district is installing seven cameras on each bus, with four looking at the interior and three on the exterior. The reason is simple: Safety. Of the passengers. Of the driver. And of the public.
We remember oh so many years ago catching the bus. Most days, it was just what it is still -- a necessary ride to school. But get that many kids together and sooner or later, something unexpected will happen. The presences of cameras can be a deterrent to improper behavior but, if it does happen, it will also help document what took place.
Perhaps just as important, the external cameras can help provide evidence of those inattentive or aggressive drives who simply can't be bothered by legal requirements to not pass a stopped bus. The transition from the security of the bus to the sometimes dangerous world of automobiles outside is perhaps one of the most dangerous times of the day for students. School officials can use video evidence to help police enforce the law. Nobody's wanting more traffic tickets handed out. What they want is a safe environment for children. If citations are needed to achieve that, so be it.
Most of the time, the videos produced by these cameras would make for boring television, but they nonetheless should prove a strong tool to help provide a safer experience for students and drivers.
It's great to see the school district put technology to such good use.
Commentary on 07/11/2017
Print Headline: On camera, again