Security companies in New York City are testing trees as a new tool to ensure the protection of private property.
A couple of months ago security companies began drilling electronic surveillance cameras into tree trunks as a way to increase surveillance so that private owners feel safe that their area is being constantly patrolled. The cameras also serve security guards, as they can scan them and see real-time data of how their patrol is going.
A NYC area where this practice is visible is Alphabet City, around a school construction site, where approximately ten cameras have been implanted in trees around the block by a Bronx-based security contractor.
While this initiative has just started, it is already stirring criticism from environmentalists and from those dubious of surveillance systems. Justin Rawson, a Brooklyn arborist, told the Gothamist that these surveillance cameras are “totally wounding the trees.”
Similarly, writer Jeremiah Moss said how dislikes feeling constantly observed. “It’s the creep of privatization and policing, a sense of entitlement to encroach on public space,” he said. “Those buttons aren’t just little buttons, they’re another link in the chain.”
There are also New Yorkers who approve the practice. Muzzy Rozenblatt feels they are an improvement for the city’s safety system. As the director of the homeless service provider, Bowery Residents’ Committee, Rozenblatt says that it is fundamental for the community surrounding BRC to feels safe and that security methods to ensure this have long existed.
“We’ve been doing this for years, this is just the use of a new technology,” he said. “We’re there encouraging positive behavior, discouraging negative behavior, looking out for the welfare of our clients and the community,” he says.
This practice, as confirmed by the city’s park department, would result in a violation of Title 18, Chapter 1, Section 18-129 of the New York City Administrative Code, a law that protects the conservation of trees. However, as many private contractors also collaborate with the NYC government in this initiative, the park department thinks it is unlikely that they will be fined or stopped.
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