The vending machine that fights crime
Issued on: Modified:
A new generation of vending machines is out in Japan. Fitted with a direct line to the police and CCTV, the flash machines don't just serve coke, but combat crime at the same time. Not such a good idea, according to one of our Observers in the country. Read more...
A new generation of vending machines is out in Japan. Fitted with a direct line to the police and CCTV, the flash machines don't just serve coke, but combat crime at the same time. Not such a good idea, according to one of our Observers in the country.
The Help Vending Machine, introduced on Friday, is the product of a collaboration between Coca-Cola and the Aichi district police. The first model was installed in a park in Toyohashi, a town 250km south of Nagoya, which decided to pilot the hybrid system after a relapse in vandalism since August. As soon as someone approaches the machine, the surveillance camera turns on and starts recording. The distributor is also equipped with a telephone, programmed to automatically call the emergency services number, 110. If someone gets into trouble, they only have to open a window on the front of the machine to call for help.
The police insisted that the device would dissuade potential offenders and push passers-by to condemn suspect activities. But soon after, the machine itself became a victim of vandalism. On October 12th, somebody ripped off the not-so-all-seeing camera and spray painted the message "surveillance society" onto the side of the distributor.
A simulated bag-snatching, shown on Japanese TV
Posted on YouTube by "paburonz".
The vandalised machine
Posted on JapanProbe.
The Toyohashi distributor
Posted on JapanProbe.
"I cannot help but sympathize with the criminal"
James is an American expat living in Japan. He blogs for JapanProbe.
It was an illegal act to vandalize the vending machine, but I cannot help but sympathize with the criminal. I do not see the global trend towards installing surveillance cameras in every public place as a good thing. It's possible that such cameras could help the police find and fight crime (some studies prove otherwise), but I feel that the resulting invasion of privacy and the expansion of government power over residents as something more dangerous than what the crime surveillance cameras might prevent."