Surveillance cameras are being used more often on the front lines of data-gathering in the public sector ranging from traffic and policing to health and safety. However, there are no commonly accepted standards for using the data these technologies provide. This raises concerns about how AI and machine learning are applied in city and state monitoring. Using camera data and AI can lead to many public benefits that include improving citizen safety and transit management. At the same time, these surveillance devices raise thorny issues of intellectual property, privacy and civil liability. This project will examine U.S. municipal policies on cameras, particularly video cameras. The team will compare policies about how video information is created and used in the public sector, particularly in the context of ethical decision-making. Traffic cameras in particular will be a focal point, since the City of Austin is especially interested in traffic camera policies. A survey also will gauge how ‘smart cities’ design policies for cameras and the data they generate.


Project team: Maria Esteva (Texas Advanced Computing Center) and Sharon Strover (School of Journalism)