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Six U.S. Cities Make the List of Most Surveilled Places in the World (routefifty.com)
248 points by emrosecoleman 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments

My first thought was: how is NYC not on this list since it has cameras on every block, and has for decades.

And then I saw this: "Atlanta was the only place in the U.S. to crack the top ten, with 15.56 cameras per thousand residents."

So they are looking at cameras per 1000 residents. This seems like the wrong way to count. If you point a camera at a block, you see everyone on that block whether there is one person or 10.

They should compute it as percentage of public area that is under surveillance, I think.

What matters more than the number of cameras is how/if the cameras are integrated. I don't much care that the local gas station has cameras tied to a 30-day DVR. I expect that. I don't expect them to be connected to facial-recognition AI, networked to the national police, and be feeding my movements into a citizenship score system that will impact my future job prospects.

Well, Atlanta has integrated over 10,000 cameras and 200 pole mounted automated license plate readers. The per capita statistics are distorted by the relatively small boundary of the City of Atlanta, but there are still a lot of cameras.



While not networked to the national police I expect that many commercial security cameras do have facial recognition to identify suspected thieves and VIPs along with tracking movement habits through the store which is shared with advertisers and product manufactures to justify cost for higher profile shelf space.

>> tracking movement habits through the store

My understanding is that was a passing fad a few years ago. It was hyped by some startups but commercial users found it less than helpful compared to traditional metrics. I met a grocery store consultant (a real job) at a security conference. He said they used cameras to deal with traffic issues (even load between aisles) and predict cashier/customer ratios. They had abandoned the face/eye-tracking tech. Eye-level shelf space is better. They don't need an algorithm to keep telling them that.

They don't need CV for this. They can use beacons embedded in smart devices to tell which part of the building you're in. Worked with one of these guys.

They need cameras for theft. Tossing a person detecting algorithm on top is basically free (especially if you don't need it to do fancy things like track faces).

How would one calculate that score?

Parked too far from pump -1. Didn't check air pressure in tires -1. Drove too quickly -1. Yawned too much, driving while tired -10 points. Did have correct national flag in rear window +1. That is all easily within current AI abilities.

Investigative journalism.

I saw a "best cities for public transit" list recently that had Reno, NV up near the top. Which was obviously baffling, and sent me to find out why. I eventually found that one of the major factors was "miles of transit line per capita and another was something like "annual mileage per transit vehicle" (possibly per-capita?).

The goal was to evaluate density of coverage and frequency of arrivals. But that completely neglected population density, so it ended up rewarding cities for urban sprawl.

This feels like the same type of mistake, where per-capita count neglects both population density and total coverage. There's a massive difference between every shop having its own camera (even if police access them) and something like London's Ring of Steel, where the camera layout and even streets have been designed to maximize coverage and identification rate in the most populous areas.

Yeah, it also conflates private/publicly owned cameras. As someone who lives in London, I think we get unfairly portrayed as a surveillance state, because really the vast majority of cameras are inside shops and businesses, not on the street, and not connected to any central databank. I personally don't find cameras like these troubling. Once you get out of central London, most streets don't have cameras on them.

This is a tricky problem, but I don't think limiting the numbers to public cameras would work. I'm not sure any numerical approach would.

In Atlanta, for instance, the cameras surveilled by the police are 90% privately owned. And this isn't just "with a warrant" or "when a shopkeeper reports a crime and provides tapes", but nonstop, integrated access to their feeds.

Conversely, a lot of the cameras in London may be private, unconnected, and indoors, which I agree is much less worrying. But the Ring of Steel does far more surveillance per-camera-per-capita than any shop camera, since it has unified design meant to maximize how many people are identifiably captured on camera.

> I personally don't find cameras like these troubling.

It’s interesting to hear this difference. Here in Germany there are often cases where the courts forbid fake cameras because they "create an atmosphere of surveillance".

Berlin has made that list too, though.

It’s not as if cameras are illegal here. You just need to have good reasons for them and have a very narrow area it surveils.

For example many of those fake cams getting forbidden were from landlords and residents sued. Now if there were good reason like many break-ins in the area, the same landlord would have been allowed to have a real camera there.

The one time I was in London fifteen years ago, it felt like 1984. I was sitting in a bus and there were at least five or six TVs showing several camera perspectives.

Including one directly at the back of my head, which showed some early signs of balding.

It was the most unpleasant bus ride I have ever had. London is nuts.

Five or six TVs on a bus? I live here and I've never seen that. What some busses do have is a single TV screen that shows multiple feeds - either at once or flipping between them. I've never been particularly sure of the purpose or the screen (dissuading violence?), but it is useful for seeing if there are any seats upstairs.

Central London was a surveillance state more than 20 years ago.

Since 1984, one might say.

And besides, you'd need a public walkway license to look at the walkway, and then a camera license to use the camera, and then a license license to display the license...

(I'm joking, but the covert surveillance and public scaremongering that London did to enforce TV licenses was a little absurd.)

Even better would be the amount of seconds each person is surveilled during their time in public space. Summed as an absolute number, and as a ratio of the total time they spend in public space.

A camera in a busy street or at a chokepoint is worse (or more effective, depending on your viewpoint) than one in a cul-the-sac, even if they cover the same amount of space.

Good point, I think it's even more complicated though.

Consider not only how many cameras there are and where, but also to what level of detail they are able to see, who has access to what they see, and as mentioned elsewhere ITT, the other systems that they are connected to.

e.g. a grainy CCTV cam in a convenience store is a single camera, as is one in a Gorgon Stare surveillance plane, but those do not generate equivalent amounts of surveillance.

As you suggest, NYC is intensively and effectively surveilled by the NYPD. The first bit of Steven Rambam’s talk at HOPE 2016 covers this in detail, starting around 3:30:


Seriously, this is dumb. NYC alone gets 60M visitors.

NYPD has a well integrated and pervasive intelligence system. I’m sure Atlanta is no slouch, but the money spent by NYC just dwarfs anyone who isn’t the Feds.

They also say

> Chicago had the highest number of individual cameras amongst U.S. cities, at 35,000.

So we at least have an upper bound.

Actually if you dig in you can find a spreadsheet [0] with all the info. NY has 11k cameras total. If you sort it by just number of cameras NY ranks as #38 (as opposed to #58 by cameras/1k people)

Also digging in, they don't have data on LA. Though they do mention that there are 300-400k private cameras. Though the top 3 cities (all in China) have well over a million.

What's also interesting is the correlation between the crime and safety indices. Some of those cities have low crime indices (under 20 is good, above 60 is high[2]) and high safety indices (higher == better). The correlation is really off here.

[0] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bKBFiVXNzrgtW95j66Tp...

[1] https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surv...

[2] https://www.numbeo.com/crime/indices_explained.jsp

I agree with your assessment. I'm in Atlanta and I'd be hard pressed to say I see too many cameras outside of roadway cameras, which we have LOTS of. I'd wager road cams make up a very health proportion of the cameras counted by this article. Pedestrian cameras, not so much.

Note the population figure for Atlanta though: 501,178. They're only counting cameras and people within the city limits, not the area that most people broadly call "Atlanta".

Even when looking at raw camera numbers, Chicago has 35,000 vs NYC's 11,000 cameras.

Ah, interesting.

I suspect they mean the wider NYC area. Manhattan itself is just shy of 34 square miles, and I think it is probably more surveillance dense per square mile than any other place in the US, but that may not apply to the wider NYC area.

NYC is still not on the list by # of cameras. If you read the rest of the article you see Chicago is #1 in that category, with 35,000 total cameras.

the point of the parent comment was that the # of cameras doesn't matter. New york is small but dense. a single camera on a busy corner will see more people in a day than multiple cameras somewhere else.

you're talking about number of people covered, but area covered might be an even better metric.

I think the number of cameras per 1000 capita is actually a good metric, it's easier to calculate and it probably is doing a good job on average.

Agreed. By the per capita metric my pants have 2000 cameras per 1000 inhabitants.

Top 20

    1. Chongqing, China – 2,579,890 cameras for 15,354,067 people = 168.03 cameras per 1,000 people
    2. Shenzhen, China – 1,929,600 cameras for 12,128,721 people = 159.09 cameras per 1,000 people
    3. Shanghai, China – 2,985,984 cameras for 26,317,104 people = 113.46 cameras per 1,000 people
    4. Tianjin, China – 1,244,160 cameras for 13,396,402 people = 92.87 cameras per 1,000 people
    5. Ji’nan, China – 540,463 cameras for 7,321,200 people = 73.82 cameras per 1,000 people
    6. London, England (UK) – 627,707 cameras for 9,176,530 people = 68.40 cameras per 1,000 people
    7. Wuhan, China – 500,000 cameras for 8,266,273 people = 60.49 cameras per 1,000 people
    8. Guangzhou, China – 684,000 cameras for 12,967,862 people = 52.75 cameras per 1,000 people
    9. Beijing, China – 800,000 cameras for 20,035,455 people = 39.93 cameras per 1,000 people
    10. Atlanta, Georgia (US) – 7,800 cameras for 501,178 people = 15.56 cameras per 1,000 people
    11. Singapore – 86,000 cameras for 5,638,676 people = 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people
    12. Abu Dhabi, UAE – 20,000 cameras for 1,452,057 people = 13.77 cameras per 1,000 people
    13. Chicago, Illinois (US) – 35,000 cameras for 2,679,044 people = 13.06 cameras per 1,000 people
    14. Urumqi, China – 43,394 cameras for 3,500,000 people = 12.40 cameras per 1,000 people
    15. Sydney, Australia – 60,000 cameras for 4,859,432 people = 12.35 cameras per 1,000 people
    16. Baghdad, Iraq – 120,000 cameras for 9,760,000 people = 12.30 cameras per 1,000 people
    17. Dubai, UAE – 35,000 cameras for 2,883,079 people = 12.14 cameras per 1,000 people
    18. Moscow, Russia – 146,000 cameras for 12,476,171 people = 11.70 cameras per 1,000 people
    19. Berlin, Germany – 39,765 cameras for 3,556,792 people = 11.18 cameras per 1,000 people
    20. New Delhi, India – 179,000 cameras for 18,600,000 people = 9.62 cameras per 1,000 people

There's a lot of comparing apples to oranges

3. Shanghai, China – 2,985,984 cameras for 26,317,104 people = 113.46 cameras per 1,000 people

76. Tokyo, Japan - 24,500 cameras for 37,435,191 people = 0.65 cameras per 1,000 people

Well, first off what are we comparing? They list 26.3 million people for Shanghai and 37.4 million for Tokyo. That's comparing the metropolitian area of Tokyo (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba) to just the city of Shangahi. Shanghai's metropolitian area population is closer to 33 million.

If we change Tokyo to the city population (9.3m) which is what they used for Shanghai then Tokyo jumps to position 40 at 2.66 cameras per 1000 people.

On top of that 24,500 seems awefully low for Tokyo. There are cameras everywhere and have been since I first got here 21 years ago. I always found it strange if the Japanese are so honest (perception may be different than reality) then why do they need so many cameras? Of course I haven't counted, just saying for a city so large and seeing the cameras stick out if you're looking it feels low.

All of that is the long way of saying the data is highly suspect.

The original article - https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surv... - explains the source of the data. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bKBFiVXNzrgtW95j66Tp... shows the source of the camera counts. The population counts came from http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/. Just the fact that the counts came from two different places make this data pretty dubious.

A better methodology would be to do a physical audit. Have some people in each city manually count the number of cameras over some area, then extrapolate from there. This has the flaw of missing hidden or inaccessible cameras, but at least would be consistent.

> Just the fact that the counts came from two different places make this data pretty dubious.

Why? Multiple sources shouldn't matter, it is the quality of sources. If you're gathering data you shouldn't expect it to all come from one place. There's no single source that tracks every single thing. At some point you're going to have to gather data from multiple sources, especially if you're trying to make comparisons that others haven't.

> Have some people in each city manually count the number of cameras over some area, then extrapolate from there.

This assumes a uniform distribution where one isn't obvious. Some places are bound to have more security than others.

It doesn't really make that assumption unless you assume simple linear extrapolation. It wouldn't be easy but I expect a decent modeling and extrapolation scheme could be devised.

I don't think it matters much though, as a simple count of cameras isn't so useful (especially with them being so cheap now). How many cameras is less important than what they cover and what they are connected to.

If you cut up the municipality into uniform sizes, and then randomly sample from that to do your counts it should account for that problem I think.

Is that true? I'd only guess there are more cameras in Times Square than Wastingtion Square in NYC. I don't know how you would divide most cities into areas of uniform camera coverage such that totaling one area is representative of all other areas in that city. Most cities have several hot spots

> I always found it strange if the Japanese are so honest (perception may be different than reality) then why do they need so many cameras?

Solving the long tail end has decreasing returns.

If you already have a well-behaving society, then adding a few cameras probably won't change anything at all. You need a whole lot of cameras to have any meaningful effect.

> I always found it strange if the Japanese are so honest (perception may be different than reality) then why do they need so many cameras?

Is it part of the zero-unemployment busywork culture?

How deep was this list? I expect that places like Quantico Virginia might have more cameras. Quanitico has a population of around 500 people, but it right beside bases for the Army, FBI, DEA ... basically everyone that really really likes cameras.

Photographers "like" cameras. The Government likes tracking citizens. Slight difference, but semantically different

Is Quantico considered a civilian area? Can I visit?

It's just a town, like Roswell, but instead of EBEs and UFOs it has g-men and drones.


"There are no significant highways passing through Quantico. All road vehicles must pass through MCB Quantico in order to reach the town. Therefore, all vehicle drivers must present a valid driver’s license to the military security officer stationed at the gate, and may be required to state their destination and reason for visiting. More thorough searches and checks may also be undertaken, according to the discretion and authority of base security.[10]

Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express trains stop at the Quantico station."

> all vehicle drivers must present a valid driver’s license to the military security officer stationed at the gate, and may be required to state their destination and reason for visiting.

So, not just a town, then.

It is a normal town, just a town surrounded by federal facilities. They don't forbid entrance and, iirc, they don't ask for ID from people not driving a cars.

I generally don’t need to state a reason why I want to visit a normal town.

A town that you can't drive into without showing ID or getting a security once-over is not a normal town.

It's a normal town, it just has its convenient access routes blocked by a military base.

Worth noting that the proportion of the Atlanta metro area that is actually within the city proper Atlanta is MUCH lower than the other locations on this list. Atlanta is about 9%. London is about 60%. I'm guessing the cameras per person in Atlanta drops if you measure across the most densely populated 60% of the metro area.

True, and I think that this makes the statistics somewhat misleading. The Atlanta metro area has a population of roughly 6 million and it's not very centralized.

This is really interesting! I've lived in 3 cities in this list: London, Beijing, and Chicago.

I can definitely say that I felt the safest in Beijing, at all time. It's a weird feeling being able to just randomly walk for hours in the streets at 4am alone, even if you're a girl, and feel completely safe.

London felt quite safe too, probably the safest city I've lived in in Europe.

Chicago on the other hand, I would never take walks in the evening, got into weird situations many times even during the day. It was quite the scary city for a European! Someone even got shot in my street when I was living there.

How does someone go about finding this kind of unsavory information about a city?

Hmm, they are quoting a population of 20,035,455 for Beijing. That's the official number based on the amount of residency permits. Locals estimate the actual population to be at least double that..

I guess it's not altogether surprising, but London being the sole break in list of eight Chinese cities is a staggering reminder to London earning it's reputation for surveillance cameras.

Here's what I find interesting, and maybe slightly disturbing: there was a time when if you took a highly techie focused site like this, and posted an article on this topic, a significant portion of the responses would include variations of: "how do we hack these things to disable them?" or "How can we avoid being spotted on camera", or "How about we get together and start physically destroying these things" or "Let's vote out the bums who allowed this to happen", etc.

These days? All we get is pedantic quibbling over what counts as "surveilled", and what's the most appropriate metric for calculating how surveilled a place is.

I'm not sure exactly what that says about our society and culture, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

These days? All we get is pedantic quibbling over what counts as "surveilled"

Or how good of an investment the surveillance tech companies are. Posts or comments about surveillance countermeasures are significantly more likely to be flagged.

There's no place in the world for that kind of person. Most of them have probably given up in some way and new ones are rare.

Is that actually true? Or is it just that given their paranoia & interests, posting about it on a public message board might not be a good idea?

The headline is slightly misleading without context on how big the list is. Otherwise you could say

>Every major American city make the list of most surveilled places in the world

with a list size of 500.

Anyways, the list seems the top offenders seems to be China (by far) and UK (to an extent). No surprise there.

The list follows a power distribution, so the first few cities on the list are significantly worse than the others. For example, Chongqing and Shenzhen (in first and second place respectively) have around 160 cameras per 1000 people, but Atlanta (first US city on the list, 10th place) only has 13.06 cameras. Other western countries on the list are lower, but don't have much less cameras. Sydney is at 15th place with 12.35 cameras and Berlin is at 19th place with 11.18 cameras.

It's not clear why the number of cameras in a city would fit a power law, which usually arises from some kind of feedback effect. More cameras -> something -> more cameras. Any ideas for what "something" is?

(Also... holy shit, that's a spammy site. Blocked.)

An idea: Cameras are deployed for a few different purposes. The more discrete functions you are trying to accomplish, the more cameras you need.

Example 1: Red light cameras. Only needed at specific intersections that have particular characteristics (high speed? high volume? not sure). The distribution of these probably maps more to physical space than population itself as the spacing of red lights is relatively independent of population.

Example 2: Cameras that are aimed at crime suppression. These will be unevenly distributed around a city depending on where crime happens. Looking at Chicago I see particular neighborhoods heavily blanketed in cameras, others very very sparsely. The distribution of this type of camera would be quite different than traffic-control cameras.

Example 3: Population monitoring cameras. I honestly don't know why China has so many cameras. Are these literally population surveillance cameras? These might be evenly distributed around a city to maximize coverage.

Some of the power law distribution you see might be a result of different cities applying cameras for 1, 2, 3, N different functions (each of which requires a different number of cameras).

A few years back I was mugged in Chicago at a busy intersection very close to a train station. Being the FOIA nerd I am, I submitted a FOIA request for the footage of the spot I was mugged at. It came back saying that no footage exists. Probing the investigator, I was told that the camera rotates randomly, and wasn't pointed in my direction. It's very difficult for me to think of Chicago's surveillance with any sort of charity, when they can't even do a single major intersection.

Fun fact: Chicago's city hall has a retention period of zero days on its cameras. Go figure.

> Chicago's city hall has a retention period of zero days on its cameras.

Does it mean that they have people watching the camera, warning the street police if they find anything, but do no recording?

That's my understanding, yes.

Given that it's Chicago, my understanding would be that the officer handling the FOIA request fed you a line, and they probably didn't even look at any recorded video to see if the camera was pointed in the correct direction.

Did you do a follow up request for whatever that camera actually recorded while you were getting mugged?

'Surveilled' by who is the bigger question, and what public access and rights do we have around the data produced, and is it being fed to some sort of Stasi style panopticon? It's remarkable to me the lack of public surveillance video produced after major events - the Epstein NY 'suicide' is the latest example, the 2017 UK London Bridge event another. (The latter had video from a mile away filmed with 90's technology as the main news story). I feel we are very overdue in the free world for legislation around citizen rights and access to video, and licensing for any entity or people who want to install surveillance, much like the recent drone FAA registration.

Surveilled by who: everyone. Have you considered how many corporations "work with the government"? The DMV itself sells your data. Everyone is spying, hacking, and selling your data. They're watching, identifying, tabulating, and tracking. You are not free to move around without your government knowing about it.

What rights do we have? None. 9/11. Terror. How many buildings fell that day?

Panopticon: We've been talking about the NSA, evidence in hand, since 2013, after Clapper lied, under oath, on public television.

Epstein 'suicide': the people who work behind the scenes are beholden to nobody except on paper. "Intelligence" is a free pass to do anything you want.

Overdue for legislation around citizen rights: Of course, in a "free world". Do you expect anything to change? What happens when our cities are covered in drones? One for each person maybe. The CIA had dragonfly drones in the 1970s. In the last five years, we have erected surveillance cameras and tracking sensors absolutely everywhere, in plain sight, and most people somehow simply aren't aware. Others ignore or make excuses. We call politicians "public servants" but government doesn't work "for the people". Government works for government, and it get bigger every day, its budget gets bigger every day, and its power increases because its eyes see farther. Soon there will be no private space left, and people will accept it. It will be suspicious to desire privacy. We still hear a chorus of out-of-touch masses bellowing the programmed refrain "Well, I have nothing to hide". We are reminded that "If you see something, say something". Report anything that does not conform to your idea of normalcy. Get a doorbell cam and connect it with the police. Trust your government. We are entering the end of the road.

There are plenty of surveillance (and other) videos of the London Bridge attack.

The question is rather why would they publicise videos of people being stabbed to death or run over in HD gory details?

Because people want to know what happened and how. Otherwise liberty, accountability, and self-determination go out the window.

We are fully informed of what happened and how, including through detailed accounts, not least because, under UK law, a public inquest took place.

But, as said, I don't see the point of publicising videos of people being slaughtered.

There are numerous examples of public inquiries failing to provide a full picture of the truth which then came out many years later, eg in Northern Ireland. There's a documentary running on the BBC right now about the Troubles featuring lots of photographs and footage that were suppressed at the time.

I don't care whether you see the point; if I wish to investigate a matter of public or historic interest, why should I be bound by your preferences?

who is 'they'? There are vey few surveillance videos of that incident publicly available. I was thinking of this one when I wrote the above https://youtu.be/BR1s7az-f-k

> There are vey few surveillance videos of that incident publicly available.

Indeed. That's what I wrote.

I think it's a good thing.

Why would you want to be less informed? Such information shouldn't be sensationalized or exploited for profit, but nor should it be suppressed. If you choose to kept in the dark - which is not the same thing as choosing not to look - then you are inviting deception and exploitation.

The lack of presented evidence feeds theories and ideas about what actually happened, strengthens local anecdotal witness word of mouth stories. Epstein is a good example of this, more questions than answers and a sudden silence from the corporate media

There are no remotely mainstream conspiracy theories about the London Bridge attacks. There is enough trust in our police, government, legal and justice systems and journalists to assume they aren't making this up...

> Kenneth Johnson, police commander of the Englewood district in Chicago, said that residents shouldn’t be concerned about privacy because the cameras are out in the open in public places. “This isn’t a secret. This isn’t an Orwellian ‘Big Brother,’” he told the New York Times last year.

This quote tells us Kenneth Johnson either did not read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four or doesn't remember it well enough to talk about it.

Per capita doesn't matter for cameras, you care about per area and arguably, coverage/holes, since 10 cameras pointing at one location/direction is (often) less informative than one well placed camera.

Indoors also matters a lot.

To this end, I'm really surprised that NYC doesn't make the list, given 9/11.

But what if so many cities have blanket "coverage", that you can't really differentiate. I mean, what if there is not enough separation between cities by that metric to make a meaningful list? I'd bet that not only the large cities, but the small cities as well would have almost blanket coverage. Small places like Key West, DC, Miami Beach, etc would all tie with the big cities for 1st. Just because the percentage of city blocks covered is so high in lots of places like that.

> per capita doesn't matter for cameras

You mean it may not matter. In practice, it is probably proportional to cameras per area, so it would matter.

As he said you can have 10 cameras pointing at one thing and know less information than one good placement...

If indoor cameras count in this statistic then that throws off what is being watched, the people or the property for insurance purposes.

> As he said you can have

As I said, that's why it may matter, not why it does.

Since moving to San Francisco 5 years ago I have been attacked on the street 4 times and had property stolen from my home 3 times. In only 1 of these cases was there a witnessing camera.

I think there is a very real tradeoff between safety and privacy, and I personally feel like my city would be better off sacrificing privacy in favor of more safety.

Agree. If you limit the allowed use-cases and have strict access and retention policies this could be really helpful.

Of course it could be used for dumb shit like giving out jaywalking tickets en-masse. And I'm not sure there's any existing agency I trust to draw the line correctly.

This presumes the added surveillance would somehow prevent crime.



Washington D.C.

San Francisco

San Diego


Rank Location #/1000 residents

10 Atlanta, United States 15.56

13 Chicago, United States 13.06

29 Washington, D.C., United States 5.61

38 San Francisco, United States 3.07

43 San Diego, United States 2.48

46 Boston, United States 2.23

And that's kind of weird. I could see Washington having heavy surveillance, for security. But Atlanta and San Diego? What's up with that?

ATL is the fraud capital of the USA and they're really only counting the tiny part of true Atlanta. San Diego has NBSD and several large shipyards in a small area.

As a San Diego Native and Resident, the cameras are part of a city wide project to put "Smart StreetLights" all around the City. They don't monitor anything specific but are used to gather evidence for crimes. San Diego does not actively monitor the videos from the camera.


Honestly, I am not against this but it does strike me a solution looking for a problem.

Thanks a lot!! I wish the article started with this.

Thank you

I thought it was interesting to that the report said no correlation was found between cameras and crime. But you dig a little deeper and it's "numbeo.com survey responses about crime". It also doesn't seem like they compared crime rates over time to see if the introduction of cameras did anything.

Yeah - crime perception has to be the worst way to measure actual crime rates - it is essentially asking to be fooled.

Sometimes I think about theoretically committing a crime. Just running it through in my head. I feel like in every single situation I'd have to pull some seriously Mission Impossible stuff not to get caught on some camera. I realize most crimes are not thought through very rationally, but this feels like a rational deterrent to crime.

So in that sense I don't mind cameras. What would bother me is:

a) Excessive video retention. It's useful in the short term as a form of evidence but in the long term it's just creepy. b) Proactive video analysis (rather than only reacting when something bad happens).

I guess with how cheap storage and compute are now, (a) and (b) are inevitable. So I guess I land on the anti-camera side of things. But I know that if a crime was ever committed against me I'd really hope there was video footage!

The one time I was robbed at gunpoint, there was video of the guy at a nearby gas station trying to use my cards. The cops said they got nothing useful from the video. I suspect that a lot of cameras are fairly useless in that sense.

I'm curious if they are counting the cameras in cars. Each Tesla has 3+ cameras that actively record when in Sentry Mode. A Costco parking lot in Silicon Valley will have a dozen parked at any given time. That's another 36+ cameras. I can easily imagine a police investigation requesting footage from owners who may have had active recording during a crime.

The number of cameras will increase dramatically in this additional dimension, particularly as other manufacturers start adding surveillance to their vehicles.

Seems if they had a warrant they could ask Tesla to provide video from any car in that area at that time.

I live in Atlanta (most surveiled in America supposedly), and I have 2 contributions to this:

- in general, per capita statistics are wonky for our city due to the unconstrained sprawl. There is a huge portion of our population that uses Atlanta daily but does not live here.

- the cameras are almost entirely for traffic monitoring and preventing crime in midtown/downtown.

Where most people actually live, there is not much in way of surveillance. I am an ACLU member and feel constantly creeped out in London. Atlanta ain't it tho

I’d like to know how much recorded video sees human review. My impression is that cities don’t have the budget to manually review footage unless a crime is reported. I’d also be curious who has access to the recordings - if it were my decision, there’d be a nuclear missle-style buddy system and chain of custody, but I doubt it’s that secure in practice.

All "blue" cities unsurprisingly. It would be incredibly positive if they turned this around. The government is not the place for community action, your homes, neighbours, streets, churches, farmers markets, local watering holes, et all are.

Related discussion from August about same report:


The ACLU is currently fighing several battles to keep law enforcement from being able to access drivers license photos for facial recognition in crime related matters. Interesting read. https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/privacy-borders...

The popups on this site, good lord.

the whole site was disgusting, I didn't even bother to read past 2 words of the headline. There was a great rant on r/web_design - welcome to the internet, no fun anymore.

Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston

Surprised to see Atlanta in the list. Why ?

Interesting. I guess I have a couple more cities to add to my "do not visit" list.

If the surveillance leads to the prompt arrest of violent criminals, it may be a good thing. I expect privacy in my home, not while on the sidewalk.

The cameras ensure criminals don't have to worry about law abiding people fighting back.

Color me cynical, but the surveillance is really just for the post-mortem and to justify additional future spending on surveillance.

What if cameras follow you on every trip you make to/from your home. Are you ok with a blotter on all your movements?

Related: Surveillance Camera Man on Youtube who films people without their permission in public -


Nobody does have an expectation of basic privacy on the sidewalk and they never have, from mutually disconnected agents like watching neighbors, random photographers, the occasional store camera etc.... The argument isn't even about these things. It's being watched by a vast interconnected network of AI-monitored facial recognition cameras that all feed into a centrally readable series of government databases which are cross referenced with other personal records of people (that can also, by the way, be hacked) and is also sold to bigcorps for intrusive, constant monetization that is a whole different order of privacy violation in any public space. This is what saying you have no expectation of privacy in public completely misses the larger point about... The latter is a much more terrifying prospect and it's well on its way.

Exactly, with the progress of technology we need to codify more nuanced concepts of degrees of privacy to protect the individual from powerful institutions. The standard of "no expectation of privacy in public" was developed at a time when universal surveillance was unthinkable, there is no reason that it should permanently remain the limit for putting constraints on surveillance.

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