Fun With Surveillance Cameras (or Not)
January 9th, 2008

Institute of Applied Autonomy

With an estimated 4,200 public and private cameras in Lower Manhattan alone, New Yorkers should just resolve to frequently being captured on ‘film,’ right? Well not if the Institute of Applied Autonomy can help it. The technology and activist group has created a map called iSee Manhattan, where a user can plot their journey through the city, and the map will send them on the “path of least surveillance.”Say goodbye to your schedule, however: You might need to go pretty far out of your way to avoid cameras, as the map above shows. And with the Police Department planning another 3,000 in the area, you might end up having to go through Jersey to get from Wall Street to Union Square.

But why would anybody feel the need to do such a thing?

“We all do things that are perfectly legal, but that we still may not want to share with the rest of the world. Kissing your lover on the street, interviewing for a new job without your current employers knowledge, visiting a psychiatrist these are everyday activities that constitute our personal, private lives,” the site says of the average Joe. ” While there is nothing wrong with any of them, there are perfectly good reasons why we may choose to keep them secret from coworkers, neighbors, or anyone else.”

But they offer specific reasons for activists, “outsiders,” and minorities, among other subgroups.

Take minorities (who are identified on the site with an icon resembling the MySpace icon with a turban) for example: “A recent study of video surveillance in the UK, the leading user of [closed-circuit television] surveillance systems, says that ‘black people were between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half times more likely to be surveilled than one would expect from their presence in the population.'”

How about women? “It appears that police monitors just cant seem to keep it in their pants when it comes to video surveillance,” they say. “A Brooklyn police sergeant blew the whistle on several of her colleagues in 1998 for ‘taking pictures of civilian women in the area … from breast shots to the backside.'”

I guess that might be another reason to oppose the proliferation of banks, what with their ATM cameras and all.

iSee Manhattan uses a catalog of the various cameras around the city developed from multiple sources like the New York Civil Liberties Union and the performance activist troupe, the Surveillance Camera Players. It was developed with the help of Eyebeam, the technology and arts center in Chelsea.

By on January 9, 2008, 11:48 am
In category: Civil Rights,nextNY,Tech | Comments Off on Fun With Surveillance Cameras (or Not)

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