San Francisco is on of my favorite cities. What’s not to like? It’s scenic, progressive, and has so many landmarks; Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, the Embarcadero, Alcatraz. While traveling to the airport from the downtown district by taxi the other day, I noticed something I haven’t seen before. The cab had a small camera positioned above the driver’s inside rear view mirror pointed at the back seat (circled in red below). A passenger notice was posted on the driver’s side rear window that read, “You are on camera.” The service was labeled FairView™. Also on the sign was a reference to Silent Witness®, a maker of video surveillance equipment (acquired by Honeywell in 2003).
My search on the City of San Francisco official web site did not yield any information about FairView™. I’m assuming the system was installed to monitor activities taking place in cabs in an attempt to reduce crime. The driver did mention anything about it, so if I hadn’t seen the sign and camera I wouldn’t have known.
While I personally don’t have an issue with this practice, some will feel this is yet another invasion of personal privacy. Leads to some questions. Are the images being stored? How long are they kept? How secure is the feed and storage? Who has access to the content? Is audio being recorded as well? Who pays for it?
If the system is effective in reducing crime or improving the safety record of cabs, we will probably be seeing a lot more of this?
Photos by Steve A. Furman