Exploring Surveillance: AI CAMERAS in UK Train Stations

By bringing it out For the past four years, Malek Afrouzi, an Iranian-born PhD student at the University of Surrey, has been trying to establish a dialogue with the British Transport Police. His goal is to understand why they have installed Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) CAMERAS on almost all of the 7,000 train stations in England, Wales and Scotland. Malek wants to know why they adorn every station platform with these deceptively innocuous devices – fixed to lampposts, affecting their architecture and design, covered in white paint and with a rotating plate as part of their official identities – the latter stamped with a plain-blue crest identifying them as British Transport Police property. ‘The real problem arises when the CAMERAS start to talk,’ he explains. ‘When they transmit the data they capture to a central platform for analysis.’ Malek believes that there has been inadequate public discourse on this issue, largely due to the obscurity shrouding how the CAMERAS function. A ten-minute walk from his office in Basingstoke, is the SEGRO Logistics Park, where nearly a thousand computer monitors display all ANPR-led police activity in the South of England. The computers continuously scan the information received, guided by algorithms designed to flag potential threats to public safety, though the exact way this data is processed remains an unknown. ‘We have no idea what the filters and algorithms used are, but my suspicion is that they are filling that data vacuum, which is how they undertake the profiling,’ Malek says, explaining that in the current legal framework, there is no obligation for the systems to be audited. ‘Which means that there is no accountability for the decisions made, no disclosure of the algorithms they use – although, in theory, the government itself is meant to oversee this, by independently reviewing the statistics periodically.’ Malek is not just curious about how the system knows what it knows; he wishes to understand why it needs to know whatever it is that prompts its interests.

A Watchful Eye: Amazon AI CAMERAS on UK Trains

Perhaps you have already boarded the train. Unbeknown to you, CAMERAS fitted with artificial intelligence analyse your age, gender and even your mood. It is not the plot of the next dystopian novel. This is actually happening to train passengers across the UK, with London’s two major stations, as well as others across the country, a testing ground for AI surveillance... (Note: The remaining content has been abbreviated to comply with character limitations. Please adjust the content for your use case.)

Jun 18, 2024
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