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Ethical Issues of Crowd Surveillance Studied

Published: March 12, 2002
Law enforcement agencies around the globe will be watching a study by Susan Brinkley, department chair and associate professor of criminology.   Brinkley has landed funding from two major national entities to examine the practical and ethical issues inherent in the burgeoning field of crowd surveillance.  The ethical issues alone are daunting, but Brinkley may have results by spring 2003.

The 18-month study, which Brinkley is conducting with Professor Robert Bickel of the Stetson University College of Law, is the first of its kind.  It is being funded by the Security Industry Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police is providing access to law enforcement agencies.


The study is being conducted in phases.  The first phase involves visiting jurisdictions using CCTV (closed-circuit television) and compiling an analysis of each system in terms of its purpose, specific type of technology (face scan or eye scan, for example), data collection methods and training.  The final phase one objective is construction of a survey instrument for distribution to jurisdictions nationwide.


The study’s second phase will consist of finalizing and mailing the survey, measuring crime displacement, and finally, collecting and analyzing the data.


The third and final phase will involve collection of data from one year on effectiveness, crime displacement and training, development of guidelines for consistent data collection and storage, and making suggestions for guidelines on responsible use of CCTV as a surveillance tool.


For more information, contact the Office of Public Information at