Smart Cities and Ethical Policies: The Challenges of Public Cameras and AI

17 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2021 Last revised: 21 Sep 2021

See all articles by Sharon Strover

Sharon Strover

University of Texas at Austin

Tiancheng Cao

University of Texas at Austin

Maria Esteva

University of Texas at Austin

Soyoung Park

University of Texas at Austin, Radio-Television-Film, Students

Date Written: August 3, 2021

Abstract

This research investigates the practical, theoretical and policy implications of city-deployed cameras in seven US cities. Social values associated with privacy (of those captured in cameras), public goods (e.g., camera improvements, AI, and machine language processing that may mean better capabilities to model and achieve citizen benefits), and open data (associated with capabilities to experiment and create additional social and private value) drive the work.
As more cities deploy monitoring and sensing technologies of all sorts, cameras are in the front lines of data-gathering. For example traffic cameras are used by cities and institutions all over the world to monitor various activities in the name of safety or efficiency. However, there are no commonly accepted standards for the use of the data such cameras provide, leading to concerns about City/State monitoring, particularly as AI and analytics applied to camera outputs become more pervasive and capable.

As the phrase “smart city” has achieved currency, the specifics of what contributes to a city “being smart, ” who is in charge of the component systems that contribute the intelligence to city systems, and what they may mean for individual citizens’ lives remain poorly understood and defined. Our primary research questions are (1) what is the current status of municipal policies and experiences with public cameras? and (2) how do cities grapple with ethical issues associated with the data their cameras capture? Our data-gathering relies on a mixed-method approach to examine policies in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Detroit, Chicago, San Diego and Austin. We examine city ordinances, the legal setting (local and state), local and national press coverage of ordinances and their implementation.

Keywords: smart cities; technology; policy

Suggested Citation

Strover, Sharon and Cao, Tiancheng and Esteva, Maria and Park, Soyoung, Smart Cities and Ethical Policies: The Challenges of Public Cameras and AI (August 3, 2021). TPRC49: The 49th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3898220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3898220

Sharon Strover (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX Texas 78712
United States

Tiancheng Cao

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX Texas 78712
United States

Maria Esteva

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX Texas 78712
United States

Soyoung Park

University of Texas at Austin, Radio-Television-Film, Students ( email )

2504 Whitis Ave
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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