Thursday, 16 July 2009

View from the plinth

On Monday this week I went to Trafalgar Square to watch my friend, Lawrence Reed conduct his composition "The Ebb of Acrophobia" from the fourth plinth, the empty one. There was a "flash" orchestra summoned by Lawrence and the Internet of some 30 people, playing a wide variety of instruments and singing lustily when required.

Lawrence suffers from Acrophobia which is the fear of heights - a fear sometimes so intense that it sparks a panic attack. The music reflected his anxiety at being perched up on the plinth.

He risk managed the problem of standing up on the relatively narrow plinth and waving his arms around in order to conduct by sitting down in a camp chair and directing operations most expressively. In the course of the hour he had only one moment when he looked as if he was becoming apprehensive.

The consumption of alcohol after the performance by performers and onlookers was sufficient to alleviate any panic attacks brought on by height, some of us were almost horizontal .

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Liabilities for camera surveillance

With video camera surveillance comes liability. There are three liability issues to be considered.

1 Does the device create a false sense of security? Particularly important when dummy cameras have been used. Also it raises an expectation that the output is being monitored real time and that, in the event of an incident, remedial action will be swift. This could be an issue when school activities are being watched. Lack of attention by the operator, or not having an operator could create liability.
2 Is privacy being invaded? There are cultural norms at work here. Harrah's has cameras in its UK casino restrooms but not in its US ones, yet the drug and terrorist threats being monitored are relevant to both societies.
3 Is there a written policy that explains why video surveillance is needed and identifies how it will be used? If there is not then a challenge to its use may be hard to defend.