The German manufacturer Dallmeier has integrated the protection shield 'privacy shield’ in their video surveillance cameras Panomera to guarantee freedom of assembly in German cities.
The Higher Administrative Court of the State of the Rhineland North-Westphalia (NRW) issued the decision last year, citing the article 8 of the German Constitution (Grundgesetz): in the case of peaceful assemblies, fixed-position video surveillance systems for all participants must be deactivated so that they are visible at a distance.
Since then, an increasing number of German cities have installed Panomera cameras with 'data protection shutter' from the German video technology manufacturer Dallmeier, to offer "maximum protection of individual rights for a minimum cost".
Since the regulations were approved, German operators of fixed video cameras installed in public areas are obliged to deactivate them during public meetings "visibly at a distance", whose objective is to eliminate the intimidating or deterrent effect on the participants in the meeting.
However, the conventional procedure for the obvious deactivation of video surveillance – usually by placing a cover with a burlap sack- places a considerable additional logistical and financial burden on the municipality.
Taking into account that in a large city are held on average more than two hundred assemblies of this type per year, additional expenditure rises considerably.
'Data protection blind'
To ensure freedom of assembly at a reasonable cost, the number of German cities that have relied on Panomera privacy shield of Dallmeier already amounts to twelve, among them Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Offenbach and Darmstadt.
Made of a special non-transparent material and colored in bright yellow, shutter darkens lenses of Panomera camera systems in a few moments with a click of the mouse. An icon printed on the shutter shows unambiguously and clearly visible from a distance: 'Video surveillance is not carried out here'.
When the demonstration or rally is over, the police and the security directorate can override the protection measure in a matter of seconds from the control centre.
"We are not directly bound by the NRW ruling," he explains. Peter Weigand, director of the Public Order Office of Offenbach-, but we cannot ignore it and it is better to be prepared, since a similar action may possibly have a prospect of success against us as well.".
As this person in charge points out, "we are not only interested in satisfying legal requirements, rather, the most important and main thing is to offer our citizens the possibility of exercising their basic right to freedom of assembly without interference.. The 'privacy shield' allows us to do it by remote control, and without any additional cost of personnel".
Frank Salder, Managing Director of Dallmeier in Gladbeck and Safe City expert at the company, adds that "as a German manufacturer of video security technology it was important to harmonize the advantages of urban video surveillance with respect to crime hotspots with current legislation on data protection. Thanks to Panomera privacy shield, citizens have this guarantee, visible at a distance, while municipalities save significant costs compared to conventional solutions".
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• Section: Case studies, Systems control, Urban security, Services, Video surveillance