Public space

19 May 2020
Researchers are scraping social media posts for images of mask-covered faces to use to improve facial recognition algorithms. In April, researchers published to Github the COVID19 Mask Image Dataset, which contains more than 1,200 images taken from Instagram; in March, Wuhan researchers compiled the
18 Apr 2020
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee at the Egyptian Parliament approved 18 new amendments to section three of the country's emergency law granting the president additional powers to implement health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new powers include
08 Apr 2020
Drone manufacturer DJI has loaned five drones equipped with voice capabilities and sirens to the US town of Elizabeth, New Jersey for use to patrol public areas and warn violators of the state's lockdown rules. The drones' messages are recordings of the mayor telling people to stop gathering
30 Mar 2020
Tunisian authorities have sent humanly remote-controlled robots onto the streets to enforce the country's lockdown; videos shared on social media show the robots challenging Tunisians in the country's capital to ask if they are aware of the rules and demand where they are going. The robots, known as
12 Apr 2020
Montreal police have launched an online system to enable residents to report suspicious activity such as group gatherings after police officers noticed significant crowding in certain areas of the city. Both the Montreal police and the province's Sureté du Québec can hand out an on-the-spot $1,000
16 Apr 2020
New versions of drones that currently issue audio warnings reminding people in Elizabeth, New Jersey to observe social distancing guidelines will incorporate sensors and fever-detecting cameras that will monitor if people are sick or failing to social distance on the trails and in the parks of
10 Apr 2020
On April 2 Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra issued a controversial rule that men and women must observe quarantine on different days: men may leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while women may leave only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. No one is allowed out on Sundays
30 Mar 2020
The Guangzhou Public Transportation Group has installed a biometric tablet next to bus drivers' seats so they can check the temperature and identity of every passenger who boards. The tablets will also photograph each passenger, allowing them to be identified by China's facial recognition network in
07 Apr 2020
The Bangladeshi start-up has developed the WATCHCAM Mass Surveillance System, which it claims can recognise individuals even when they're wearing a mask with 87.3% accuracy - and 99.4% if they're not wearing a mask. The company began developing the system in 2019 to provide ATM security
26 Mar 2020
The UK's Home Office has granted police in England new powers to enforce lockdown rules for six months, to be reviewed every three weeks. The police can now: order people to disperse or leave an area; ensure parents are doing all they can to top their children from breaking the rules; issue a £60
16 Mar 2020
Spanish police are using drones to warn people to stay indoors apart from necessary trips after seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Human officers control the drones and relay via radio warnings to people to leave public parks and return home. Source:
28 Mar 2020
The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Transnistria (the Pridnestrovian Moldovian Republic), an autonomous territorial unit of Moldova, has announced it will use facial recognition to identify people who break quarantine. In its press release, MIAT highlighted the case of a 26-year old citizen who was
28 Mar 2020
The Jamaican Government intends to fast-track creating and implementing a national ID system and give every Jamaican citizen a unique identifier in order to help it distribute aid and benefits needed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government intends the system to be similar to others such
30 Mar 2020
The Western Australia state police force is using drones to deliver audio warnings to enforce the quarantine restrictions placed on some individuals and sending more than 200 officers to patrol the streets to break up gatherings and enforce social distancing in parks, beaches, and cafe strips. The
31 Mar 2020
Biometrics companies are offering free services to essential businesses, remote workforces, and government agencies administering benefits claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Among them are Redrock Biometrics, which is waiving its licence fee for palm print recognition for essential businesses
31 Mar 2020
As inmates are released from prison in order to mitigate the public health and humanitarian threat posed by the coronavirus poses to a confined population, Minneapolis-based Precision Kiosk Technologies is highlighting its AB Kiosks, which can be used to replace riskier face-to-face meetings with
01 Apr 2020
Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of representatives that efforts to combat Covid-19 would be “greatly assisted” by a mandatory biometric national ID system. The national identification system, NIDS, would require everyone to register and be linked to an individual’s unique biometric. The
31 Mar 2020
As inmates are released from prison in order to mitigate the public health and humanitarian threat posed by the coronavirus poses to a confined population, Minneapolis-based Precision Kiosk Technologies is highlighting its AB Kiosks, which can be used to replace riskier face-to-face meetings with
29 Mar 2020
As part of its efforts to facilitate a transition out of lockdown, researchers at Germany's Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, are planning to introduce "immunity certificates" for those who pass an antibody test to show they have had and recovered from the virus and are ready to re-enter the
27 Mar 2020
After the British government announced a national lockdown, Derbyshire Police used drones to capture footage of people rambling, walking their dogs, and taking photos in the Peak District. The move was widely criticised as heavy-handed and counter-productive; however, the government followed up by
24 Mar 2020
In a partnership with G3 Global Berhad, a system combining thermal scanning technology and facial recognition from SenseTime has been put in place at Malaysia's King's Palace. The combination is intended to trigger alerts, as well as detect and identify people even when they're wearing face masks in
24 Mar 2020
In Jojutla, a municipality in the southern state of Morelos, the government is using drones, normally used for security tasks such as reducing homicides, to surveille gatherings in public parks and plazas and tell people to go home, at the same time distributing hand sanitiser gel and face masks on
23 Mar 2020
Owing to concerns about the possibility of spreading the coronavirus via banknotes and payment cards, Russia has begun testing its Unified Biometric System (EBS) for payments at a selection of grocery stores including Lenta supermarkets. The Russian bank VTB plans a mass roll-out for mid-2020. For
24 Mar 2020
Managed from a purpose-built coronavirus control centre, Moscow's network of 100,000 cameras equipped with facial recognition technology is being used to ensure that anyone placed under quarantine stays off the streets. Officials claim the centre can also be used to track international arrivals and
17 Mar 2020
Aided by its small size, Singapore's contact tracing efforts were a key element of controlling the virus's spread; detectives used CCTV footage to locate the contacts of more than 6,000 people. Singapore also contacts individuals required to self-isolate several times a day and requires them to send
23 Mar 2020
Malaysia will use both government-owned drones and drones borrowed from local industries under the direction of the armed forces and on-the-ground police to monitor compliance with the Movement Control Order. Because Malaysia doesn't have enough drones to cover the whole country, they will be
25 Mar 2020
According to information collected by Le Temps, telco Swisscom will use SIM card geolocation data to communicate to federal authorities when more than 20 phones are detected in an 100 square meters area. Gathering of more than 5 people are forbidden in Switzerland since March 21. Data collected by
17 Mar 2020
Russia has set up a coronavirus information centre to to monitor social media for misinformation about the coronavirus and spot empty supermarket shelves using a combination of surveillance cameras and AI. The centre also has a database of contacts and places of work for 95% of those under mandatory
20 Mar 2020
Among the Chinese companies making efforts to help the country respond to the coronavirus are the technology giants Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, Xiaomi, and Foxconn. In order to fight misinformation, Baidu created a map layer on top of its standard Map App that shows real-time locations of
17 Mar 2020
Athena Security, which previously sold a system claiming to detect weapons in video feeds, is marketing "artificially intelligent thermal cameras" that the company claims can detect fevers and send an alert to the client that they may be carrying the coronavirus, and claims that its Fever Detection
16 Mar 2020
Peru has suspended constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, although the government has guaranteed the operation of supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, basic services, and the transportation of merchandise. Source:
06 Mar 2020
China's airport screening, which includes scanning all arriving passengers for fever using “noncontact thermal imaging” since late January and requiring passengers to report their health status on arrival, look reassuring but won't stop the spread of the novel coronavirus because experience with
In late 2017, the residents of the small town of Santa Maria Tonantzintla, about three-hours away from Mexico City, discovered their town was intended to become a pilot smart city in a collaboration between the state of Puebla and the organisation Alianza Smart Latam. The town's residents, who had
17 Aug 2018
US Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) used social media monitoring to track groups and people in New York City associated with public events opposing the Trump administration’s policies, including ones related to immigration and gun control. The investigative branch of ICE created and
29 Apr 2019
A private intelligence company, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, used social media to monitor more than 600 “Family Separation Day Protests” held across the United States on June 30, 2018, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy family separation policy. The policy was part of a “zero tolerance”
06 May 2019
Absher, an online platform and mobile phone app created by the Saudi Arabian government, can allow men to restrict women’s ability to travel, live in Saudi Arabia, or access government services. This app, which is available in the Google and Apple app stores, supports and enables the discriminatory
03 Jun 2019
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law
17 Jan 2019
In January 2019 Twitter revealed that it had discovered a security flaw in that meant that Android users who updated the email address linked to their account between November 2014 and January 2019 had inadvertently turned off the "protected" setting on their accounts so that their tweets could have
22 Aug 2017
In August 2017, it was reported that a researcher scraped videos of transgender Youtubers documenting their transition process without informing them or asking their permission, as part of an attempt to train artificial intelligence facial recognition software to be able to identify transgender
15 Sep 2018
In September 2018, when Massachusetts state police tweeted a map of responses to fires and explosions during a gas emergency, they inadvertently revealed that they were closely monitoring several activist groups, including a Facebook group for Mass Action Against Police Brutality, the Coalition to
27 Sep 2018
The proposed extension to the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would connect Alberta and British Columbia in parallel to the existing pipeline and triple its capacity, was controversial for years before Canada approved the project in 2016. In 2014, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
06 Sep 2018
Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the New York City Police Department installed thousands of CCTV cameras and by 2008 in partnership with Microsoft had built the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center to consolidate its video surveillance operations into a single command centre that also
15 May 2010
In 2010, Google revealed that a data audit required by Germany's data protection authority had revealed that since 2007 the cars deployed to capture images for its Street View project had accidentally captured 600GB of data from local wifi networks, including personal web browsing histories. Google
30 May 2007
In May 2007, Google launched Street View, an add-on to its Maps service that allows users to see and "drive" through images of streets and buildings. Almost immediately, the service provoked controversy when users realised that these images included pictures looking through the windows of their
In February 2018 the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a contract with Vigilant Solutions, giving it access to the company's giant database of billions of license plate records, which can be searched to produce every place a given license plate has been seen in the last five years
The first signs of the combination of AI and surveillance are beginning to emerge. In December 2017, the digital surveillance manufacturer IC Realtime, launched a web and app platform named Ella that uses AI to analyse video feeds and make them instantly searchable - like a Google for CCTV. Company
07 Feb 2018
In February 2018, police in China began using connected sunglasses equipped with facial recognition to scan crowds looking for suspected criminals. In a test at a busy train station in the city of Zhengzhou, police were able to identify and apprehend seven suspects accused of crimes ranging from hit
29 Jan 2018
In November 2017, San Francisco-based Strava, maker of a GPS-enabled fitness app, published a heat map showing the activity of all its 27 million users around the world. Upon outside examination, the data visualisation, which was built from 1 billion activities and 3 trillion data points covering 27
In 2014, the UK suicide prevention group The Samaritans launched Radar, a Twitter-based service intended to leverage the social graph to identify people showing signs of suicidal intent on social media and alert their friends to reach out to offer them help. The app was quickly taken offline after
30 Nov 2017
A report for the US National Academy of Sciences explains the methods used by a team of computer scientists to derive accurate, neighbourhood-level estimates of the racial, economic, and political characteristics of 200 US cities using the images collected by Google Street View in 2013 and 2014. The
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google's owner), has signed a deal with the Canadian city of Toronto to redevelop the brownfield Quayside waterfront district and turn it into a technology hub. The deal raises three sets of issues. First (The Guardian) is the essential privatisation of
20 Apr 2017
Using anonymised data GPS data from mobile devices, primarily smart phones, SafeGraph concluded that the crowds attending the US presidential inauguration in January 2016 make significantly less money than attendees of the Women's March two months later. The income level estimates were made possible
12 Jan 2016
In 2016 reports surfaced that bricks-and-mortar retailers were beginning to adopt physical-world analogues to the tracking techniques long used by their online counterparts. In a report, Computer Sciences Corporation claimed that about 30% of retailers were tracking customers in-store via facial
18 Aug 2016
In a presentation given at the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference in 2016, researchers discussed a method of using the data generated by smart card public transport tickets to catch pickpockets. In a study of 6 million passenger movements in Beijing, the researchers used a classifier to
19 Mar 2013
The Satellite Sentinel Project, a constellation of high-powered satellites trained to find atrocities on the ground with a half-metre resolution, was set up in 2009 to find human rights abuses in the conflict in Sudan. Conceived by former Clinton administration State department staffer John
24 Apr 2016
As part of its Smart Nation programme, in 2016 Singapore launched the most extensive collection of data on everyday living ever attempted in a city. The programme involved deploying myriad sensors and cameras across the city-state to comprehensively monitor people, places, and things, including all
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
15 Oct 2016
The Japanese electronics giant NEC introduced one of its facial recognition systems for the first time in a sports arena in Colombia. The soccer stadium in Medellin has a capacity of 45,000 people and occasionally suffers from hooligans. The operator of the arena takes photos of such hooligans when
11 Mar 2016
In 2016 Jonathan Evans, the former head of Britain's MI5 warned that private firms are analysing "open source" - that is, publicly posted - information to create profiles that are just as intrusive as anything Britain's intelligence agencies deploy and that the gap is closing between open
02 Apr 2016
In early 2016 Libreville, the capital of Gabon, signed up for Microsoft's CityNext programme, which is intended to supply innovative "smart city" solutions in eight key areas: health, social services, infrastructure, water, electricity, justice, culture, and education. Applications in each area will
03 Apr 2016
At the 2016 Usenix conference, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) presented a system called Chronos that could use wifi signals to detect the position of a person or object inside a room to within tens of centimetres. MIT claimed Chronos was 20 times more accurate
16 Apr 2016
In 2016, 21-year-old Russian photographer Egor Tsvetkov launched the "Your Face is Big Data" project. He created the project by semi-secretly photographing passengers seated across from him on the St. Petersburg metro, then uploading the images to an online service called FindFace. FindFace's
03 Mar 2016
In 2016, a group of criminologists intend on identifying the famous graffiti artist Banksy used a forensic technique known as geographical profiling. The technique is more commonly used to identify potential suspects in cases of serial rape, arson, and murder, and works by mapping crimes to see if
21 Jun 2014
In 2014, NYC Planning Labs Chris Whong was sent and made public a complete a complete dump of historical trip and fare logs from New York City taxis in response to a Freedom of Information request. The more than 20GB of uncompressed data comprising more than 173 million individual trips included
07 May 2015
In 2014, India's newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, allocated INR70.6 billion (upwards of £750 million) to a plan called "100 Smart Cities". Although a year later the funding dropped to INR1.4 billion, smart city-themed conference continued to take place in Delhi and Mumbai, and urban
In 2015, The Intercept obtained documents showing that the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to friend and monitor local Black Lives Matter activists, and collect their personal information and photographs without their knowledge. The account was discovered in a
23 Mar 2016
In 2016, the Big Data lab at the Chinese search engine company Baidu published a study of an algorithm it had developed that it claimed could predict crowd formation and suggested it could be used to warn authorities and individuals of public safety threats stemming from unusually large crowds. The
21 Apr 2016
According to the US security firm Statfor the Chinese government has been builsing a system to analyse the massive amounts of data it has been collecting over the past years. The company claims: "The new grid management system aims to help the Chinese government act early to contain social unrest
09 Jun 2016
A new breed of market research companies are pioneering geoanalytics to find complex financial information. That is, they use machine learning algorithms to search for patterns in high-resolution satellite imagery that's refreshed daily and available at the scale of 1 meter per pixel. Much of the