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Where are the Eyes is a program for detecting and mapping surveillance cameras (github.com)
128 points by aoeuaoeu123 on Oct 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

You need to provide the data.

You should also specify the terms of contributions and a license of the data.

People will be more encourage to contribute if they know that their free work is benefiting others, and not just the project owners. Looking at the code, there is an API route, it says that the data is not confidential, but that it's only for admin users because you don't want people hitting the service too much. In this case, I would suggest providing daily or weekly dumps of the data. (You could also benefit from seeing the growth over time).

So, provide the data, make the data open. Think about the license of the data. What's different from Google doing this? Why would anyone want to contribute to this project, and not say a project from Microsoft? Is having open source a differentiator? What benefit to the contributor does having the code as open source provide, if they cannot get the data. Differentiate your project and encourage actual crowdsourced contributions by specifying that it is open DATA and specify your terms for contributing.

I just sent an email (before seeing your comment) asking after the data license. If it's an open license, it could be integrated with existing services like OpenStreetMap which 1) allows many more people to benefit from the data; and 2) allows users of this project to benefit from existing OSM data.

Let's see what they say.

Edit: 39 minutes later (that was quite quick!):

> Whoops, good catch! That is absolutely not our intention, give me a bit and I’ll extend the license to cover GPS data for camera positions.

> We are considering closer integration with OpenStreetMap. We already use them for all of our map backend, but don’t currently store our camera data in OSM. There are some concerns about corrupting their data with non-existent cameras, particularly if someone scripts interacting with Where are the Eyes. While the data is under our control we can try to detect bots and roll back their changes, but we don’t want to be “rolling back” parts of OpenStreetMap.

> I definitely agree about adding the cameras from OSM to Where are the Eyes, and periodically copying the Where are the Eyes data to OSM, but I am less comfortable with completely integrating the two.

I won't go into detail about issues and solutions I see with either option, but they seem to be considering things carefully, and I guess that's not a bad thing.

Indeed. Why isn't a big dynamic map with all the camera locations plotted not the first thing I see when I click on the daylightingsociety.com link?

I fully agree.

And you should contribute the data back to the probably single most important open data project -- OpenStreetMap.

Another vote for contributing the camera location data back to OSM. A surveillance layer sounds awesome.

It's not sure where the data comes from. OpenStreetMap, of course, has a way to tag and store survelliance cameras[1]. There are some maps already using this data on a map:


[1] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:man_made%3Dsurveilla...

Would be nice to funnel the collective effort to OSM.

I was going to mention the "Surveillance under Surveillance" project you linked as well. How's the project OP posted any different, other than that the mapping libraries and the map data don't seem to be open and they probably don't have as much data on camera locations yet?

One of the things I intuited from working with Security Camera businesses, was that, in fact, the authorities had a very low awareness of all the cameras and camera footage available to them. You may want to consider whether this will, in the short term, actually aid them in identifying sources.

That would be security by obscurity. Especially in this case, we shouldn't rely on it.

I rather offer us both the locations so I can avoid cameras when necessary, than wonder.

Well this sounds exactly like the project I ran for the local Pirate Party during Slovenian elections - nadzorovan.si ("you are monitored" in Slovenian).

You can see the map of cameras here: http://nadzorovan.si/zemljevid (we targeted the capital city center for coverage).

Anyway the original hack was simple - you use your normal camera with geotagging enabled (and a sports app running in the background for better GPS coords) and take pictures of cameras. Activists than sent it to me, I ran it through a basic PHP script that resized the images, stripped the EXIF data and constructed a JSON that was displayed on a map.

We upgraded it to the current status - nadzorovan.si - a year later but due to time constraints have been unable to finish the mobile apps that simplify the image taking and upload experience and enables us to incorporate non-Pirate activists. The code will be open sourced (it kind of already is, it just isn't on github) and the dataset is entirely public.

We plan to restart the project in the spring. There are a whole host of issues with a project like this - if anyone's interested I can go into details.

I should note the project was very well received in the public.

That is very cool. And a nice way to make it happen. Any ideas how to include direction they are facing? Or general direction? Something like the compass data plus the angle of the camera in the photo?

I've been traveling through Europe recently and have been shocked by the sheer number of surveillance cameras in public spaces. It's not uncommon to see 3 - 5 cameras on a single pole.

There is no indication regarding who owns each camera, when it's recording (presumed always), if it has audio, the purpose of the camera and how long the data is retained. This project is awesome, and could be the first step to answering the above questions (and more) for each camera.

"Europe" is far too large and diverse for this to be a useful statement.

Do you mean large cities in certain countries, or everywhere in a particular country?

London and generally speaking the UK is full of surveillance cameras, but just this weekend I was unpleasantly surprised to see that a quite remote village in my Eastern European country (close to the middle of nowhere, so to speak) had decided to install a surveillance camera in the middle of their village. There was not much to spy on, apart from cows and 70-year old grandmas, but the camera was still there.

AFAIK London is the most surveilled city in the world, in terms of available state-owned security cameras per capita.

> in terms of available state-owned security cameras

This is wrong. It is the most surveilled but most of the cameras are privately owned.

It could be that they've had issues with anti-social behaviour or vandalism. These can often occur in small, remote villages that offer little else in the way of entertainment.

Probably to keep an eye out for youth groups, they tend to converge in village centers.

I wonder if the camera was even real? I.e. people often install fake cameras because it's cheaper and achieves the same deterrent effect.

fair point.

Large cities primarily: Istanbul, London, Belgrade, Prague are some examples.

I understand they have a purpose for genuine security incidents, such as terrorism attacks, but the lack of transparency in their day to day recording is a concern.

I've taken photos of many locations, I'll add them to the map.

> I understand they have a purpose for genuine security incidents, such as terrorism attacks

Presumably they're installed primarily because of day-to-day crimes, not terrorism prevention.

That can depend -- at least in London, many government-controlled cameras were initially installed for terrorism prevention and investigation. (Just last week someone was arrested for leaving a bomb at a station, although this is now very rare compared to the 1980s-1990s.)

The majority of cameras are privately owned, and are supposed to prevent normal crime.



Right, I forgot that UK had its terrorism period during 80s/90s. Thanks.

Sounds a lot like UK. As someone else pointed out - Europe is way to diverse to call as a single entity with this scope. Large cities in UK are quite heavily monitored, but if you look at Europe in general, then the surveillance is centered around government buildings, embassies etc.

In Denmark you can have quite a lot of cameras in shops and outside petrol stations, which is the business owners way to up their security. But those are NOT allowed to film anything facing away from the premises, meaning you can't just film people on the street from these cameras.

The rules in the UK are pretty much the same as in Denmark, as the limitations of both are down to the EU Data Protection Directive.

Recording that includes public spaces are subject to strict reporting requirements, and both those covering private and public spaces are subject to privacy rules regarding handling of the data, and subject access.

Whether that will remain the case once the UK leaves the EU is another matter..

Here in Nottingham they've started installing very bright street lights (unpleasantly bright imo) that are on full illumination all night.

One of the justifications is that it makes it easier to see stuff on CCTV.

> those are NOT allowed to film anything facing away from the premises

Makes sense, but any idea how they verify this? Would someone report a camera they think is facing outwards and this would be investigated? Or are there random checks?

To the best of my knowledge, it's not enforced. And if it is, it is probably only when someone feels violated and as you say report it. I'm pretty sure the control is next to nonexistent.

> I've been traveling through Europe recently and have been shocked by the sheer number of surveillance cameras in public spaces. It's not uncommon to see 3 - 5 cameras on a single pole.

98% of street cameras are private, they're used to watch for store fronts, bins, cars parked on street etc. If you have one, you get much better insurance deal for your business.

I guess it depends on which country in Europe. e.g. UK is well known for its cameras. In most countries the law requires to have signs indicating that CCTV is in operation but still doesn't identify who owns the feed and who has access to it and I think it doesn't include government controlled cameras.

> In most countries

Can we avoid these sweeping statements? They're at best useless, and often misleading, if not simply wrong.

The UK rules are here [0]. Signs (or similar) identifying the operator of the CCTV cameras are required.

Transport for London (running the London Underground and London Buses, and some trains) is a government body, and has their sign here [1, PDF], which includes a phone number.

[0] https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/cctv/

[1] http://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-supplementary-signs-standard.p...

A friend of mine was biking along a river in rural UK and stopped to take a piss. While he was relieving himself, he heard a zzzzz sound coming from somewhere. On closer inspection a camera mounted on a decommissioned telephone pole was moving, tracking him.

This is not the world I want to live in.

Seems very unlikely. Why would a rural river be monitored, especially with a motorized camera?

An urban river (or canal) is much more likely. I don't know if the statistics back up the perception, but these places are often considered unsafe at night -- poor lighting, not many people around, usually only two directions to run.

Cool project. You could end up with somewhat of a goldmine of data. Even with quite a bit of interest for the local government. Here in Denmark, they talked about making a register that the government could access in cases where the investigation warrented it(whatever that means). The point being; that no one seems to have an overview of all cameras present. The law here, as I understand it, prohibits businesses and private people from filming anything other than their own premises and directly in front of. But some probably film more and could be useful in mapping 'suspects' routes to and from the crime.

Big brother is watching. Europe is so concerned about privacy (e.g. google, facebook), but on the other hand goverments does this and no one bats an eye. Like you noticed it's not really clear who uses those cameras, how they are controlled, how they are protected from hackers and what if someone just add his own camera that looks just the same.

> goverments does this and no one bats an eye

> Like you noticed it's not really clear who uses those cameras

I think you missed that parent was talking about "businesses and private people" using cameras and government wanting to have a register of camera ownership.

From my experience in Germany, surveillance cameras you see in public will be

1. in train stations: there are warning signs to notify you that you will be filmed

2. outside an apartment building, pointing at the door (to discourage burglars)

3. inside a store, pointing out the front window (burglars again)

4. on private property, surveilling said property (trespassers and burglars)

All of these uses are subject to regulation concerning how much public space can be filmed. There was a case of a murderer/rapist (can't remember exactly) being caught walking by a store's front camera. The police were happy to take the tip, but the storeowner was still fined for violating the regulations.

It would be nice if this data was made available as a standard format for consumption in other systems, such as OGC WFS.

Even a way to view the data on their own site would be a good start.

Is there any way of seeing the map of cameras nearby without downloading the app?

One option to reduce the risk of bots or otherwise false data would be to request people to submit picture of the camera.

I can't figure out what the app does to "detect" surveillance cameras?

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