Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras

Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras

Victor M. Gonzalez (University of Manchester, UK), Kenneth L. Kraemer (University of California, Irvine, USA) and Luis A. Castro (University of Manchester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch009
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The practical use of information technology devices in domestic and residential contexts often results in radical changes from their envisioned raison d’être. This study focuses on the context of household safety and security, and presents results from the analysis of the usage of video cameras in the public areas of an urban neighbourhood in Tecámac, Mexico. Moving beyond the original envisioned purpose of safety, residents of the community engaged in a process of technology appropriation, finding novel applications for the security cameras. These uses included supporting coordination among family members, providing enhanced communication with distant friends and family, looking after minors while playing outside, and showing the household to friends and colleagues. Our results illustrate that success in information technologies is a dynamic phenomenon and that technology appropriation has to be understood as a phenomenon that occurs at the level of the application of the device, rather than at the level of the device itself.
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Characteristics Of The Study And Methodology

In the city of Tecámac, Mexico, Real Paraiso Residencial, a housing company in partnership with Conectha, an Internet Service Provider, built a residential complex (Real del Sol) consisting of around 2,000 houses equipped with a personal computer and broadband Internet access. By the end of February 2006, with the support of the aforementioned companies, we started a three-year study with families living in or about to move in to Real del Sol. The general purpose of our study is to analyze the way that this particular vision of home computing becomes materialized and socially constructed over time as a product of the interactions between neighbours, developers, and designers. Among other factors, our study explores the symbolic meaning of technologies in domestic settings, the role of technologies in supporting neighbourhood organization and management, and the integration of technological services into the daily practices of urban families.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technology Appropriation: The effort of users to make sense of the technology within their own contexts.

Intranet: A restricted-access network that works like the Web. Usually owned and managed by a company. The intranet enables a company to share its resources with the neighbours without confidential information being made available to everyone with Internet access.

G7 Concept: Concept created by a Mexican housing company which comprises seven basic housing elements: innovative design, financing, post-sale link, connectivity, school link, shopping link, and security.

Privada: A Cluster of 10 or 20 houses (similar to a cul-de-sac) separated from the rest of the community by gates. These privadas share common areas such as trash bin area or green areas.

Gated Community: These communities have restricted access to residents and visitors only. They comprise a community surrounded by physical barriers (~3m. fences) which are erected to avoid unauthorized intrusions.

CCTV: Closed Circuit Television

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