The City of Perth, Western Australia website ( https://www.perth.wa.gov.au) details how my visit using the Internet is logged in relation to my navigation or inquiry;
“...When you visit our website, the web content management system and our Internet Service Provider automatically records your visit and logs the following information for content personalisation and statistical purposes:
Your IP address
Your top level domain name (e.g. .com, .net, .gov etc)
The date and time of your visit to the site
The pages accessed and documents downloaded
Time spent on individual pages
Time spent overall on the site
Browser type and version
Referring site and media asset (eg search engine or display advertisement)...
Using the search function provided in the City of Perth, Western Australia website I was unable to locate any public records, policy articles nor public statements defining or confirming the use of ‘body worn camera’ technologies or ‘BWC’ using the following parameters:
‘body worn camera’
‘parking inspectors body cams’
‘body cameras promote safer community’
‘perth parking inspectors fitted with body cameras’
Using the same search parameters I located eleven (11) Internet accessible articles and podcasts dating back to early 2017 on this topic by Internet search engine, Google.
I rang the City of Perth main contact line at 11:45 AM on Thursday 6th December which automatically via a voice recording informed me that my call would be recorded for training and quality assurance purposes. After selecting option ‘5’ to speak with an ‘other inquiries’ Officer, I clearly stated that I wished to speak with the most relevant person who could inform my questions relating to ‘body worn camera technologies that the City of Perth Traffic Infringement or other Officers now wear in their line of public duty’.
I was placed on hold and the phone was answered by an individual who identified themself by their first name only and again I was asked what the nature of my inquiry was, within which I identified that my inquiry was relating to research related to ‘the use of body worn camera technologies that City of Perth has issued it’s parking inspectors and other officers with’.
I was again placed on hold and shortly after by a third person I was informed that ‘Kylie XXXXXX, Business Operations Officer’ could answer my inquiry however that person was ‘on leave’ until 10 December, 2018.
I asked for Kylie’s email address but was not provided that contact. I then left my own personal email address and mobile phone number and was assured that ‘Kylie’ would respond to my inquiry. The purpose of this correspondence and recount is to inform myself and others as to the socio-ethical implications on society that emanate by examination of the purpose and deployment by the City of Perth of ‘body worn camera’ technologies, systems and associated services.
The City of Perth ‘Terms & Conditions’ page clearly states it will record my interaction with the City Of Perth website and will be used to inform my inquiry and ‘to improve its service and quality assurance in relation to my inquiry’.
My inquiry remains as follows.
As surveillance cameras in the area will detail, on Thursday 6th December 2018 at around 10:00 AM I parked my vehicle close to the junction of Gooderich and Hill Street in Perth, Western Australia. I purchased a parking ticket, placed it visibly in the vehicle and walked to the Royal Perth Hospital a short distance away. Shortly after, at 10:40 AM I returned to the vehicle where I observed a City of Perth Parking Infringement Officer in close proximity.
I approached the Officer slowly, walking and indicating audibly that I wished to speak with them politely. I introduced myself as a ‘researcher with an interest in body worn cameras’ that the officer wore on the left hand chest / shoulder.
The camera I noted was Cadmium red in colour and body mounted on a high visibility vest. I was careful to stand a distance away from the Officer and to ask the questions in a quiet and inquiring manner.
My first question of the Officer was why the Officer was required to wear a body camera whilst performing in the line of their public duty. I was informed by the Officer that the camera was ‘for your personal safety and for my personal safety’.
I questioned what danger I was being protected from and the Officer stated that in their line of duty they sometimes encounter ‘heated discussions’ and that these had in the past led to violent encounters ‘so the cameras are a deterrent from those situations occurring’. I asked whether I was being recorded by the camera or by any other device the Officer was wearing which included a Bluetooth hands-free headset in one ear.
The Officer indicated that they were required to inform those in their contact at the point of recording that they would be recording by means of the body worn camera. The Officer also pointed to a small ‘patch’ on their high visibility jacket that stated that the Officer was wearing a body worn camera.
The Officer unprompted then indicated that at the point of recording they would also ‘radio’ or ‘signal’ to a ‘back-to-base’ contact who would ‘trigger’ CCTV cameras in the near vicinity to the ‘location of the target’. The Officer indicated with a hand gesture that this occurred via their wearable radio contact device and pointed with the other hand at surveillance cameras on private buildings opposite our location and also at ‘gimbal’ cameras close by on the street corner power poles.
I then inquired whether the Officer considered themself therefore to be ‘with due respect a mobile CCTV unit’ acknowledging their capacity to ‘trigger’ additional surveillance from their given geolocation as an extension of their own capacity to record. The Officer indicated that ‘yes, we are here to keep everyone safe in the city’.
My last question of the Officer was to inquire whether it was permissible to photograph the Officer wearing the body worn camera. The Officer indicated that I was not permitted to take a photograph nor record the Officer in their line of duty because ‘I do not want my personal details nor features distributed by social media over the Internet’.
I then thanked the officer for their time and responses and returned to my car. I note that at no time was I asked to identify myself by name or by any other identification during our point of discussion.
I consider the response by the Officer as courteous and polite without any element of threat nor untoward issue.
My inquiry, as a member of the public and as an interested researcher in this field, is composed as questions seeking answers as follows;
Why is there currently little or no access to accessible information from the City of Perth website detailing use, type, intent, governance of this technology now visibly deployed on City of Perth Officers?
In addition to video and audio recording, do these technologies also capture, process and inform Officers by facial recognition, ANPR or other artificial intelligence enabled means, data to inform the Officer’s response to those members of the public they come in contact with?
What privacy provisions does the City of Perth observe in relation to the use of these technologies as Officers move between public, municipal and private place?
Where are the publicly accessible use cases, public relations statements and records of stakeholder consultations that inform the public's awareness and capacity for comment regarding claims that BWC ensure ‘safety’?
Which cultural and social welfare organisations has the City of Perth involved in the decision making to deploy this technology as a means of surveillance to act in a form of deterrence for behaviours deemed as inappropriate within the City of Perth precinct?
This inquiry has been sent to the City of Perth main contact and has been published through my personal Uberveillance.com website as a means through which to inform those who respond to my inquiry.