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Privacy concerns vs safety: One South Carolina city introduces AI cameras to monitor crime, some question privacy

South Carolina – One South Carolina city decided to introduce new approach to fighting crime and managing traffic, but the move is stirring up a mix of reactions. Modern times require modern solutions and introducing artificial intelligence (AI) cameras is part of many cities’ public safety strategy. While some see this as a step forward in enhancing security, others are raising concerns about privacy.

One South Carolina city introduces AI cameras to monitor crime sparking debate if technology ruins people's privacy

AI surveillance cameras – pros and cons

AI cameras, a modern technology still in its infancy, are designed to monitor public spaces for criminal activity and traffic violations. Proponents argue that these cameras could make streets safer and reduce crime rates. However, there’s a lively debate about the balance between public safety and individual privacy rights.

One major issue with AI cameras is their accuracy. Research indicates that these cameras, particularly in facial recognition, can be biased and unreliable. This raises questions about the fairness and effectiveness of using AI in law enforcement and traffic management.

Privacy concerns are at the forefront of the debate. With AI cameras, the idea of being under constant surveillance is unsettling for many, sparking fears about the erosion of personal privacy. People worry about being watched all the time, even when they’re not doing anything wrong.

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Another critical concern is the potential misuse of AI cameras for discrimination. There’s a risk that these cameras could be used to unfairly target specific groups based on race or ethnicity, leading to biased profiling and discrimination. This possibility has added to the apprehension surrounding the deployment of AI cameras in public spaces.

North Charleston introduces AI cameras

Residents of North Charleston appear to feel differently about artificial intelligence (AI) technologies watching the roads. Although they take different techniques, the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the NCPD both use REKOR AI technology to improve road safety.

“I don’t have anything to hide, so it’s OK with me if they use my data, as long as they’re not using it for racial profiling,” local resident Lawrence Chisolm said to WCSC.

In order to monitor crime around the city, the NCPD uses 31 REKOR AI cameras, as stated by its Public Information Officer, Harve Jacobs. These cameras are mostly utilized for Silver and Amber Alerts, as well as for identifying stolen and wanted vehicles.

Furthermore, as REKOR Systems Executive Vice President Mike Dunbar noted, REKOR AI technology is not limited to the NCPD in South Carolina. This technology also helps other agencies.

“There are customers in South Carolina that are leveraging our technology to catch bad guys, you read a license plate, amber alert, stolen vehicle felony warrant, you alert the appropriate authorities,” Dunbar explained to WCSC.

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Dunbar claims that every AI camera has a variety of possible uses.

An official from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) attested to the use of these AI cameras for vehicle data collection and traffic counts. Planning, building, maintenance, reporting hurricanes and other disasters, and obtaining funds from the Federal Highway Administration are just a few of the uses for this data.

South Carolina can utilize AI cameras in multiple ways

Dunbar notes that the state can use the same sensor that does law enforcement duties to handle volume and categorization functions. Vehicles are counted and categorized into 13 distinct groups as they pass in front of the AI cameras. Following that, the Federal Highway Administration receives this data, which enables SCDOT to submit a funding request for road maintenance.

According to Chisolm, the public can gain from technology if it helps raise more money, use it properly, and enhance community services.

According to Dunbar, the capacity of AI cameras to instantaneously classify vehicles is a recent discovery, even though REKOR Systems Technology has been in use in South Carolina since 2019.

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Dunbar also points out that South Carolina has other untapped uses for technology, like tracking visitors via license plates and keeping an eye on greenhouse gas emissions.

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