On cam­era, again

School dis­trict uses tech­nol­ogy for child safety

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.

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 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 pres­ence 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 pro­vide ev­i­dence of those inat­ten­tive or ag­gres­sive driv­ers 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.

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