Bradley Bytes – a kind of political chronicle with Dara Bradley
Do you sometimes feel like you are being watched? You know that scary feeling of a surveillance camera being trained on you, recording your movements in a public place?
This is because you may be being watched. If you live in Galway City near a school, it is likely that you will be or have been monitored by recording equipment owned by a private company, acting for Galway City Council.
All in the name of “Active Travel” and “Safe Routes to School”. Not that they will tell you, audience member or resident, in advance. Oh no.
No, what happens is that the cameras will appear, on lampposts on the public road outside a school, without notice. They will stay for the weekend and then disappear.
Some residents may not even notice that they have potentially been filmed coming and going, parking their car, locking their bike, or doing whatever they do indoors. outdoors or in the front rooms of their home.
The city council insisted that everything was above the council; that the data is not used to monitor individuals.
Maybe they are right. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Of course, it doesn’t matter if it’s filmed that you’ve had takeout delivered to your front door three nights in a row; or that you fell home “tired and emotional” at all hours of Sunday morning?
Nobody cares. But what if the cameras could detect a pattern in your comings and goings that could be useful, say, to a burglar? Or what if you have a visitor in your home who could put you in a compromising position if knowledge of that visitor’s visit fell into the wrong hands?
There are many legitimate reasons why people do not want to be monitored and do not want CCTV directed at or near their property. Especially when it’s “secret”, and there’s no advance warning of who owns the cameras and what they’re for.
This is not an invented example. Three cameras magically appeared outside a city school in June over an entire weekend without the public knowing.
Council did not have the courtesy to warn people. What the hell were they for?
“Cameras are in place for a traffic investigation to inform the detailed design of (named school), as part of Safe Routes to School,” a spokesperson said.
These studies, the Council said, are “commonly used” and have been used at Parkmore and Kirwan Junctions. Additionally, “they are undertaken on all Safe Routes to School projects to inform designs”.
“Investigations are being carried out by IDASO, a registered data controller, and have undertaken a data protection impact assessment as part of their appointment.
“IDASO provides anonymous aggregate data to clients (eg Galway City Council) and surveys are not used to identify or monitor the activities of individuals,” the council’s statement added.
Well, that’s fine then. What could go wrong?
(Photo: one of three cameras erected near a school in the city)
This is an abbreviated version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, check out the July 8 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.