The Institute for Applied Autonomy held workshops in which participants create interactive maps of their city’s surveillance infrastructure.
Initially this meant focusing on the mechanics of surveillance, pointing out that in practice CCTV surveillance has had very little impact on actual crime and that it is subject to the biases of system designers and operators, which means it often gets used to ogle women and single out youth and minorities for scrutiny.
This activity asks a very different set of questions than simply “Does CCTV make you uncomfortable?”
Instead, it points to the lack of any kind of baseline data about surveillance.
Before we can have an intelligent conversation about CCTV surveillance, for example, it would be nice to know how many cameras are in operation, where they are, who owns them, etc. For the most part, this information simply doesn’t exist.
In most countries, cameras are put up by individual building owners and their data is increasingly managed by third-party private companies.
In effect, we have an emergent infrastructure of video surveillance that is growing on an ad-hoc basis, without any public discussion or oversight. Interview at
On the other hand, officers are trawling through hours of CCTV footage with unconfirmed reports suggesting they have a crystal clear image of the suspects who planted bombs in London.