When I was assigned to be guest editor of this digital edition of AI, I took it as an opportunity to explore drowning-detection devices such as video surveillance systems, which happens to be the subject of my favorite TV show.
“Person of Interest” is a paranoid procedural about an ex-CIA operative and a genius billionaire who possess a powerful program that tracks everyone’s every move through omnipresent surveillance cameras, smartphones, laptops and what-have-you.
They use data gleaned from “The Machine” to prevent crimes.
It may sound like a silly sci-fi premise, but it does pose uneasy questions about jeopardizing privacy for the sake of safety. Pool operators may soon find themselves grappling with this very same issue as this technology comes to the fore. In fact, some already are. There’s a controversy brewing right now in the U.K., where use of the devices has gained public attention. As it turns out, swimmers across the pond aren’t keen on being recorded in their bathing suits.
I get that. But I also see the other side of the argument: These systems are saving lives.
I don’t know how to feel about it. Let’s suppose my local YMCA installed one of these things: I’d find it ironic that I wouldn’t be allowed to take pictures of my son at his swim lesson — that’s a rule there — while everyone in the pool is under surveillance. But then again, if it helped lifeguards get to him faster …
See what I mean? Uneasy questions.
Nate Traylor is a senior editor with Aquatics International. Follow him @n8traylor.