24th Jan 2018: In the few days since the open letter was sent to the committee and posted on the web page, your feedback indicates a widely held level of unease within the community. The web page has broken the record and is now the highest read news page ever on our community web site at koitiata.nz. This subject is not going to be swept under the carpet, whatever the wishes of the initiators of the ill-conceived Spycam project may be. (Please note; the Spycam, pictured above, is not supported by all committee members.)
But first, yes, a response was received from the committee chairman;
From: James Bryant
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 10:05:50 PM
Thank you Eddy for your concerns. I will table your e-mail for discussion at the next Residents Committee Meeting on the 13 February.
To which we replied as follows;
From: Eddy Mason
Date: 16 January 2018 at 17:23
Thanks James. Will the meeting be a review of the project in light of residents’ concerns?
Can I inform residents that all work on installation and setup will be stopped until that meeting has been held?
Several residents are intending to take the issue up with the Privacy Commission. To help stem community discord I can ask them to put a hold on their intentions if project put on hold.
There has been no response to the questions asked, and no acknowledgment that there are concerns being expressed within our community.
Now the most important feedback, what the community is saying. Below is a selection from resident’s responses and comments, both written and verbal, (they have been edited for brevity, with spelling and grammatical errors corrected).
“As a property owner in Koitiata I certainly wasn’t consulted (are the ‘out-of-towners’ ever consulted?)”
“Please pass my displeasure onto the appropriate people.”
“To me a Spy Camera suggest that the Koitiata Village has a crime problem that needs to be monitored. “
“I feel that we as a village community would be best to nurture our community environment rather than promote paranoia.”
“First heard about was letter to KRC, not justified, no crime, concern about privacy and data. Adamantly against.”
“We feel an active neighbourhood watch community would better suit us and encourage community relationships.”
“Concerned that community not consulted, no crime -no need.”
“I feel the need to voice my support for Eddy’s thoughts on this divisive issue. My feeling is best summed up in Lynda Marsh’s letter in a recent newsletter: “as a village community would be best to nurture our community environment rather than promote [suspicion and] paranoia.”
“… Let’s not pretend we are an affluent gated community. If people enjoy a raffle and Market Day – let’s give the proceeds to charity – and let’s keep our good relationship with the Council for the things we really need.”
“I feel like its invading my privacy very much……Our village is not a high crime area and hasn’t ever really been…I cannot believe they are spending left over money on this when the could be spending on playground or something that would benefit the community much better…I will be seeking advice from a lawyer due to my privacy being violated…I’m dead against this and its first I have heard of it and don’t feel like they have consulted everyone… Another thing I would like to know what they are doing with this information…where its being stored? Who has access to this information? How long is this information kept for?”
“Koitiata Residents Committee to cease activities until the Community has been properly consulted as per the Privacy Commissions suggested Guidelines.”
“You’ve done this without a community mandate. You are a small local committee (without legal status as far as I am aware) not the Council or Police. You’re not even a Community Board or Community Committee of the Rangitikei District Council neither of which would be allowed to do something like this without proper community consultation. By the way, who is monitoring the output from the camera? I’d like to include that information in my complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.”
“I have a real concern as to who has access to the footage. The committee has lost its way – serving only themselves.”
“The cost is a big concern. Where did that money come from? My main concern is who has access to the footage”
“We had heard one was being fitted, but no we were not fully consulted.”
Above comments are a selection, with many others expressing the similar views on the same subjects. They jointly point to the main issues for residents being as follows;
- Crime. There is a consistent view being expressed that, there has not been in the past or currently, any level of offending that would provide justification for a Spycam. (Because this is usually used to justify and be the purpose for installation and operation of Spycams, this is expanded on further down.)
- Community consultation. If there is one issue that all have been in unison on, it is that the community members have not been consulted by the committee, about the need for Spycam and/or appropriate use of community funds. The number who had no knowledge of it at all is surprising, to say the least. (This has led to an additional issue being raised; refer 4 below.)
- Data / Privacy. The most emphatic responses have been relative to personal data, it’s security, and their rights to privacy. Even a couple of people who were so-so about the Spycam raised this as a worrying issue. It suggests that some of our residents are a few light years ahead of the committee on that subject.
- The Committee. An issue of concern that has arisen, is the questioning of our residents’ committee’s credibility. Probably not surprising, although the vehemence was unexpected. Best summed up by this statement from a concerned resident; “When did our community give the committee the approval and authority to monitor and record our personal travel into and out of the village? When were they appointed as our security watch dogs?”
Crime, (or lornorder as it is spun during political campaigns) is a very productive industry for those who sell easy fixes. Look at all the gated communities full of paranoid and fearful people, all of their movements being watched over by 24-hour Spycams. We are assuming that CRIME is the reason our “Crimefighters” have decided that you all need to be monitored; because at this time there has yet to be any response to our questions on that subject, or to anybody else’s questions either. (Maybe they haven’t come up with any supported justification yet; wouldn’t that have been the first step?)
The CRIME justification for the Koitiata Spycam doesn’t hold water. The table below shows that we have a negligible offense rate in Koitiata. The table has had the domestic, behavioural, and drug related ‘events/occurrences’ removed. These are far and above the most common ‘events’ in Koitiata, and it would be stretching it for our “Crimefighters” to claim that a Spycam would stop and/or prevent that stuff happening. The number of those events removed is shown in right column of table. (View the full table here.)
So, the Spycam is working already, crime is down to one reported event in 2017! And the claim ‘it will prevent crime” struggles to be credible when there is a negligible amount to be prevented. Where is the information to support the “prevents crime” claims? It looks a bit like someone has been lead up the garden path doesn’t it? Is there more we are not privileged enough to know? Is more Crime going to be arranged?
If you are happy that the Spycam “will probably be a good thing”, good for you. Would love to hear a bit of an insight on the “good thing” theory. But if you had heard and read the community feedback that we have received over the last couple of weeks, you would probably be questioning whether this Spycam imposition on our community really is a good thing.
Fear and paranoia isn’t a good mix with our ‘being at the beach’ lifestyle. Residents being taken for granted and having privacy concerns are not good things either. And what does it say about our community to have that ugly bit of tech junk as the new “Welcome to Koitiata” sign?
If you have concluded that this is not the way we do things in Koitiata, stand up and say something! If you don’t, you will have to accept that our community can have misguided schemes, even if well-intentioned, imposed on it by a small number of people. Make a comment below, or send an email, or phone; just do something if you want to save the Koitiata village culture. You own it – stand up for it. (If you want to comment without your name being published, email it to email@example.com and if requested your name will be kept confidential).
If you want to write to the committee or members, their contact details are on the Residents’ Committee page at Contacts, (page no longer on this site), or we can forward from firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of concerned residents,
Eddy, 3 Rapaki Street,
(06) 327 3676; email: eddymbeach AT gmail DOT com
Next week we’ll be putting together information to help you to make a privacy complaint, either as an individual or jointly with other Koitiata residents.