Big brother is watching

Smoking in non-smoking areas without getting caught is about to get a lot harder in Singapore, according to a story in The Straits Times.
The National Environmental Agency (NEA) intends to deploy surveillance cameras around the island with high definition thermal sensors to help detect smoking in prohibited areas. The cameras will be aimed also at capturing what the story described as ‘other unhygienic acts’ such as spitting and littering.
Singapore prohibits smoking in an estimated 32,000 premises and locations, such as entertainment outlets, shopping malls, office premises, hospitals, schools, cinemas, bus-stops, covered walkways, lift lobbies, stairwells and entrances to buildings.
Cameras deployed in areas where smoking is prevalent but barred will record images of the person as well as the date and time.
The tamper-proof thermal cameras, which can detect a person holding a lighted cigarette during the day or night, will be placed discreetly on rooftops, in common corridors and staircases of residential buildings, multi-storey carparks and other locations.
But the thermal cameras will focus only on the common corridors, lift lobbies or staircase landings where smoking is prohibited.
NEA said it would be mindful of the privacy of members of the public, though it is aiming to deploy 140 cameras a year.
The NEA said there were strict protocols governing the viewing of the footage from cameras and that only authorized NEA staff and the vendor would be authorized to handle and view the video footage, and then only for official purposes.
The NEA issued about 22,000 tickets last year to people smoking in prohibited areas, up from 19,000 in 2016, but this rise was only to be expected given the exponential rise in the number of places where people cannot smoke.
People caught smoking in prohibited areas are liable to fines of S$200-S$1,000 if convicted in court.
Members of the public can report infringements via the NEA website or MyENV app.