Cameras, AI, and Public Values in Smart Cities

This project investigates comparative policies around the creation and use of video data in the public sector. As more cities deploy monitoring and sensing technologies, cameras are in the front lines of data-gathering in traffic, policing, and health and safety. However, there are no commonly accepted standards for using the data these technologies provide, leading to concerns about government monitoring, especially as AI and analytics applied to video become more pervasive. Camera improvements, AI, and machine language processing may mean better capabilities to achieve citizen safety, transit benefits, and so forth, but they also raise thorny issues of intellectual property, privacy, and civil liability, among others. This research examines the practical, theoretical, and policy implications of public sector-deployed cameras, especially video cameras, in the context of ethical decision-making. The core components of the project include an examination of municipal policies and practices in the US around the use of cameras, particularly video cameras. Traffic cameras in particular will be a focal point since the City of Austin is especially interested in traffic camera policies. More broadly, it will gather existing policies and data practices, and conduct a survey to gauge how smart cities have designed policies for handling cameras and the data they produce. The research team also will host monthly seminars called Smart Cities and AI to share the work experts at UT and beyond.

Team Members