Cameras and Taxis

The great thing about a liquid lunch is it gives you a good reason to leave the bike at home and take a taxi. Earlier this week, while returning from just such a junket, I started talking with the cabbie about the City’s proposal for putting cameras in taxis.

The guy was emphatic. The cameras were a terrible idea, for a number of reasons:

The cameras don’t just take the occasional picture, the track the taxi’s speed, time on shift, and money made from fares.
The cameras must be installed by a city-approved umm… installer. Apparently there are only two, leading the drivers to think that there’s a little patronage action going on behind the scenes.
Drivers think that their fares may be put off by the invasion of privacy. The example the driver gave was of someone cheating on their spouse. He felt he’d lose business if they knew there was a camera taking their picture.
A camera wouldn’t stop a crime from happening, it would only make it easier for the cops to track down the perp. The driver didn’t seem interested in justice-for/vengeance-on/rehabilitation-of criminals as much as preventing the crime in the first place. He was in favour of a barrier, but said the city dismissed the idea because it would make Ottawa look dangerous.
The proposed cameras sounded over-priced. He thought the city was going to be selling them to cabbies at a premium.

It’s interesting that the media (embodied by CBC and the parts of the Citizen that I read) hasn’t really talked about the alleged capabilities of these cameras. If safety is the first concern of the city, then it sounds like they should opt for barriers, and then put cameras in (you know, the kind the only take pictures) if the cabbies want them.

Folks on CFRA were saying that it sounds like City staff would have access to the cameras, leading to the possibility that the cameras could be used for purposes other than ensuring cabbie’s safety.