MDB Insight Blog


Do Your Citizens Want or Need CCTV?

In 2019 the City of Ottawa experienced three fatal shootings in the ByWard Market. The shootings prompted mayor Jim Watson to request a Privacy Impact Assessment, to consider whether or not installing CCTV cameras would improve public safety.

CCTV is already prevalent in most cities, however it is largely in the hands of the private security industry for the protection of individual or collective business properties. 

Many citizens are aware of, and comfortable with, the idea of businesses employing CCTV security cameras. Security CCTV can contribute to an elevated feeling of safety for consumers, but it can also bring up questions about privacy. 

The Pros and Cons of CCTV

Plenty of studies in recent years have concluded that CCTV is not a useful crime deterrent. Blueprint by CBRE covered a cross section of those studies, and we’ve included a summary of their pros and cons here. 


  • CCTV can help deter crime in parking facilities, public transportation hubs, and on public transportation vehicles. 
  • CCTV can help identify and provide location information for crime suspects.
  • CCTV can help track missing persons.
  • CCTV can help identify and track vehicles used in crimes.
  • CCTV footage can be used as evidence in court.


  • Security cameras do not deter violent crime which is often spontaneous.
  • Knowing they are being recorded can actually make some people extremely uncomfortable and cause them to change their behaviour in ways which could lead to them being identified unfairly as a suspect.
  • CCTV is not very effective in heavily crowded areas.
  • It’s costly to install, maintain, and monitor.
  • There’s a fine line between maintaining public safety, and invading the privacy of citizens.

How Do I Know If My City Needs, or Wants, CCTV?

image3-3Finding out whether the citizens of your community are interested in, or see a need for, CCTV security cameras can be a bit of a challenge. Public discussions on the matter are almost guaranteed to turn into debates about Big Brother and Surveillance States. Highly volatile discussions often result in only the loudest voices being heard, while others with valid points to contribute may not feel comfortable speaking up. 

Public discussion events also don’t give you a representative opinion for your entire community. There are certain people who will participate in every single public discussion. But a large number of citizens never attend or participate; they may have strong views and opinions on the topics you present that you may never get to hear about. 

With a topic as controversial as CCTV security cameras, you’ll get more honest and representative feedback from your constituents via private public opinion polling. With MDB Insight’s Citizen Satisfaction IQ™ survey, you can gauge the level of community interest in, and perceived community need for, a CCTV system. Having this current and representative data will give you the platform you need to further pursue, or discontinue, an investigation into CCTV for your community. 

If your community demonstrates high interest in a CCTV program, you can follow up the Citizen Satisfaction IQTM survey with our Tax Sensitivity Calculator™. It allows residents to choose initiatives that they care about, and see in real time how supporting that initiative would impact their tax rates. 

Taking advantage of these tools for the investigation of sensitive topics, like CCTV, will not only save your community money, it will also save time in getting to the core of citizen opinion so informed decisions can be made without delay.

Solid Data Will Help Your Council Function Better

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