There are currently 40 security cameras in 31 locations in downtown Reykjavík, Fréttablaðið reports. Last January there were cameras in 15 locations around downtown. There are plans to install one or two cameras which would scan license plates and give police information about the vehicles in real time.
“We are using these cameras every single day, also on big days like Gay Pride and Culture Night and really every weekend when we are alerted about incidents downtown,” stated Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson, chief of police in the Reykjavík capital area.
According to Fréttablaðið, there is great interest in the installation of security cameras in other municipalities in Iceland and some have already installed similar systems. In Reykjavík’s case, the city pays for the cameras, Neyðarlínan (operator of the national emergency number and other services) is responsible for their setup, maintenance, and logistics, and police monitor the footage.
Ásgeir adds that the cameras are often used to monitor police cars and emergency vehicles when they are in use in the city center and mentions past occurrences of vandalism of police cars or robbery from ambulances. He also stated that cameras are used to monitor law enforcement and emergency crews in action to determine whether they need reinforcements.
Though security cameras have in the past been seen as an invasion of privacy, Ásgeir believes public opinion has changed. “People have gotten used to there being cameras everywhere and there are cameras everywhere in cell phones, in most stores that people go into there are cameras so I think people have started looking at it more as a point of security rather than as a restriction of personal freedom,” he stated. Police have exclusive access to the footage from the cameras.
Ásgeir considers it likely that the number of security cameras will increase. “We still have to make a final assessment of whether we have enough cameras to see the area we are trying to monitor or whether there are any gaps or something we have to add,” he stated.