Friday, June 04, 2021

Spy Cams on New York

According to Amnesty International the New York City Police Department has access to 15,280 surveillance cameras around the city, all of which feed into discriminatory facial recognition software. This 15,280 figure was arrived at by asking volunteers from around the world to tag surveillance cameras on Google Maps Street View images at intersections across Manhattan (3,590), Brooklyn (8,220) and the Bronx (3,470). Amnesty claims that this pervasive level of surveillance coupled with facial recognition software means that you are 'never anonymous' in NYC and your movements can be tracked across the city.

Amnesty International's Decode Surveillance NYC is an interactive map which reveals the locations of these 15,280 cameras across New York - although the map doesn't quite reveal the locations of individual surveillance cameras. The Amnesty map is obviously designed to give an overall impression of the number of cameras across the city rather than reveal precise locations. The map uses a heat map layer to show the density of cameras, with the result that the precise locations of individual cameras are blurred.

I can understand why Amnesty has made this choice in order to emphasize the level of police surveillance in NYC. However it does mean that the actual location data is somewhat obscured. This wouldn't matter if Amnesty International had open-sourced the data. Amnesty may well have open-sourced the data, however I can't find a link on the map, or on Amnesty's methodology explanation, which allows you to view the actual data behind the map.

1 comment:

Dr.Flay said...

If you use "Where Are The Eyes?" you can see the raw data for spycams around the world.
The project still works but has ended development, and it is up to others to continue the work.