Surveillance Technology Working Group

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh signed the Surveillance Technology Executive Order ensuring residents have input on proposed uses of surveillance technologies by the City of Syracuse. The Surveillance Technology Executive Order puts in place policies and procedures for oversight on how the city pays for such technology and ensures that surveillance tools are used in a safe and well-governed way.

Background
Technology, predictive models, and automated decision-making tools can create efficiencies in government and can enable more proactive work to happen. The models and tools are only as good as the data that feed them. While predictive models are based on historical data, if the data has been biased in the past, it will create a model that is biased for the future. The same occurs with the application of technology and automated decision making tools. 

Working toward Improvement

The working group consists of 12-15 individuals comprised of a mix of City of Syracuse Employees and external stakeholders from a variety of community groups in the City of Syracuse.  This group is responsible for maintenance of a surveillance technology inventory and the evaluation of technologies as they go through the surveillance technology process.

The goal of the group will be to ensure due diligence is done on all technologies fitting the surveillance characteristics so thorough and valid recommendations can be given to the Mayor. This working group informs city government of how any given technology may impact the City of Syracuse in a variety areas including equity or service, efficacy of collection techniques, financial capabilities of implementation, and benefit to the taxpayer. This working group is selected by the Mayor with recommendations from Senior Staff and the Office of Accountability Performance and Innovation (API). 

    

Technologies Reviewed

Right of Way Imaging (Closed)

Requesting Department: Syracuse Department of Public Works (DPW)

Comment Period: April 6, 2022 - April 20, 2022

Technology Companies: Cyclomedia 

The Syracuse Department of Public Works (DPW) is considering the use of an assessment of city streets.  This Right of Way (ROW) imaging, somewhat similar to Google street view, provides accurate information without distortion and has accuracy/measurable data points for items in/viewable from ROW like signage, etc.

DPW and Assessment will have access to the data through a web portal. The data will be available for 24 months after this scan.  Access to this data is guarded by credentials.  The City is reviewing technology from a company, Cyclomedia, that uses vehicle mounted Lidar scanners to gather this information.  Information collected would be scrubbed by the provider's algorithm to blur faces, license plates, and any identifying information.

PublicCommentForm-Cyclomedia-Public.xlsx(XLSX, 8KB)
Cyclomedia-Mayoral-Approval.pdf(PDF, 360KB)
STWG-Cyclomedia-Recommendation.pdf(PDF, 227KB)

Crime Investigation Street Cameras Pilot (Closed)

Requesting Department: Syracuse Police Department

Comment Period: December 6 - December 20, 2021

Technology Companies: Flock Safety and IK Systems 

The Syracuse Police Department is considering the use of street cameras that will capture still images of license plates to aid with investigations and the apprehension of suspects after criminal activity has occurred. 

The street cameras to be installed will not identify specific drivers but will collect data continuously, capturing images and data every second. The City is reviewing technology from two companies that specialize in hardware and software safety solutions—Flock Safety and IK Systems Inc.  Once a company is approved, the Syracuse Police Department will be responsible for the compliance of data storage and destruction as set by New York State Law.

License-Plate-Reader-Technology-Summary.pdf(PDF, 70KB)
Public-Comments-for-License-Plate-Street-Cameras.xlsx(XLSX, 20KB)
STWG-ALPR-Draft-Recommendation-Feb-2023.docx(DOCX, 15KB)
STWG-ALPR-Final-Recommendation-1.pdf(PDF, 932KB)

Public Works Fleet Management (Closed)

Requesting Department: Public Works, Division of Fleet Management

Comment Period: December 6 - December 20, 2021

Technology Companies: Samsara 

The Department of Public Works is also considering GPS tracking for real-time location of the department’s fleet. The Public Works technology also provides camera images along driver routes to aid in ensuring crew safety and accountability. The Public Works fleet technology that performs GPS tracking and uses AI cameras will be permanently installed on DPW trucks and equipment. It operates continuously storing data in a cloud-based environment available for recall on-demand. Fleet Operations superintendents will have access to the data through a highly secure web portal. 
 

STWG-ST22-001-Fleet-Monitoring-Recommendations.pdf(PDF, 245KB)

Tethered Unmanned Aerial Systems (Closed)

Requesting Department: Syracuse Fire Department and Syracuse Police Department

Comment Period: July 13 - July 27, 2021 (Closed)

Technology Companies: Fotokite

Tethered devices launch to give public safety responders situational awareness on major incidents like fatal crashes, train derailments, endangered missing persons, mass shootings, or barricaded individuals. They can also provide public safety awareness at large public gatherings or events. The devices, manufactured by Fotokite, only go up and down and have no horizontal capabilities. 

Surveillance-Tech-Form-Fotokite-Responses-Aug.-2021.xlsx(XLSX, 14KB)
Fotokite-Final-Recommendation.pdf(PDF, 186KB)

Illegal Dumping Remote Cameras (Closed)

Requesting Department: Pilot Partnership with New York Power Authority

Comment Period: July 13 - July 27, 2021 (Closed)

Technology Companies: undetermined

Monitoring uses cameras and sensors mounted on street lights or utility poles to monitor City-owned vacant lots where illegal dumping is a recurring problem. The pilot program is part of the City of Syracuse Smart City initiative in partnership with the New York Power Authority. It is being reviewed by the advisory group because equipment could capture images of people or vehicles which pass within the camera’s field of view.

  • Comparative analytics use images over time to identify changes at the site.  Notifications will be sent if there are changes indicating illegal dumping.
  • Department of Public Works staff will have access to review photos after an illegal dumping notification.
  • Proposed for use at five initial sites; the program could be expanded, if effective.

Surveilance-Tech-Form-Vacant-Lot-Responses.xlsx(XLSX, 15KB)
*Final Recommendations not issued yet.  The Surv. Tech Working Group is waiting on information from the requesting department. 

   
Meeting Minutes & Materials

 


City Department Technology Requests

If you are a City Department interested in putting a technology up for review, please follow the link below to complete our intake form.  

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please contact Nicolas Diaz, e: ndiaz@syrgov.net, or Jason Scharf, e: jscharf@syrgov.net.

New Technology Request Form