Private companies, research institutions and government organisations in Amsterdam are now obliged to report sensors deployed in public spaces.
The information is being displayed via an online map to give residents more insight into how, where and what data is collected from sources such as cameras, air quality and traffic sensors, Wi-Fi counters and smart billboards. The map shows the type of sensor, the owner and whether personal data is processed.
A statement from the city said: “Amsterdam believes that residents have the right to know where and when data is collected. The sensor register and the reporting obligation help to create awareness. It is one of the 18 actions from the Amsterdam Data Strategy.”
The requirement applies to new sensors and those that are already installed in the city, including mobile sensors.
So far, only sensors from the City of Amsterdam have been included in the register. Other owners are now urged to report their sensors and have until 1 June 2022 before enforcement action will be taken.
If there is no response even after warnings, the municipality can remove the sensor at the owner’s expense, the city said.
The obligation to report sensors is part of a regulation update recently passed by the City Council.
Image: City of Amsterdam
Private sensors, such as smart video doorbells, and sensors for “investigation and public order” are exempt from the notification requirement. The latter includes police cameras, for instance.
A spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam told capitaltribunenews.com: “Transparency about the location of those sensors could interfere strongly with the main purpose of the sensors. In these specific cases – and for these specific sensors – the importance of transparency does not outweigh the importance of the interest of investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.”
AI and Public Eye
Last year, Helsinki and Amsterdam were the first municipalities to launch artificial intelligence (AI) registers detailing the AI systems in use, including information on datasets, data processing and whether the tools have human oversight. Partly inspired by this, a similar national system will soon be piloted in the UK.
Along with smart city design cooperative Tapp, Amsterdam also developed its own privacy-focused crowd monitoring technology, which has been made available as open source for other cities – and in future, companies – to use free of charge.
“It’s very hard for the city to determine how privacy is ensured if you don’t know how the technology behind it works,” Boen Groothoff, project manager for smart mobility in the City of Amsterdam’s Chief Technology Office, told capitaltribunenews.com recently. “So when you’re developing it yourself, you have more control that ethics and privacy is assured.”
Information is displayed underneath each Public Eye camera to explain what the pilot is about.
Image: Responsible Sensing Lab
Further, the Shuttercam project by the Responsible Sensing Lab (RSL), a collaboration between the City of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, is experimenting with cameras with shutters that open and close to show people when sensors are active. Three prototype cameras are being piloted in the Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab – one that has a shutter operating to a set time schedule, another which residents can turn off temporarily or ‘opt out’ of and a third that has to be manually wound once a week as a physical barrier to make the city more mindful about whether it’s necessary for cameras to be on indefinitely.
Image: | Dreamstime.com
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