The widening usage of technologies for security purposes has produced a plethora of research papers and one of the central themes that emerged was that any technology should not be viewed as a panacea but one element of a security process. The implementation of security technologies has often been characterised by an absolute belief in their effectiveness and there has not been enough debate concerning whether the systems are appropriate for the specific security requirements of a given context. Research has started to identify where CCTV may be effective and what operational processes need to be in place but work on biometric technologies is in its infancy regarding the effectiveness of systems, particularly the impact that algorithms within the system may have upon on their operation.
Research has started to establish a body of work that identifies some of the ways that the new technologies are impacting on society. Graham and Wood (2003: 232) point to the importance of working to 'expose the ways in which these systems are used to prioritise certain people's mobilities, service quality and life chances, while simultaneously reducing those of less favourable groups'. The impact of these technologies can be subtle and individuals may be unaware of how their lives are being affected which creates real challenges for researchers.
This unit has explored some of the reasons why security technologies have dramatically increased and some of the key drivers behind the growth including the use of digitalisation to support neoliberal economic agendas. The influence of the private sector within public services has been raised as a concern by academic authors and increased regulation has been proposed to address the challenges to civil liberties that the technologies represent. The current legislation designed to protect privacy is not adequate to limit the unregulated growth of surveillance systems (Lyon, 2003). Lyon (2004: 137) suggested that the technological fixes and the associated surveillance systems might be creating another form of risk due to the inadequate safeguards in place to protect an individual's personal data.
Currently there is a wave of public support for increased security technologies which is built on perceived high levels of risk across societies. Research examining the sustained impact of the technologies has shown that public support can reduce if their experiences of the technology do not meet their expectations (Gill and Spriggs, 2005). Concerns have been raised that the technological solutions to surveillance 'hold significant symbolic appeal' rather than offering real protection from threats (Ackleson, 2005). Different technological security measures have been implemented at different rates across the world and there is the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and this remains one of the challenges for researchers (Lyon, 2004).