Sousveillance Studies

Ski Googles and Streetview Sousveillance: The politic of police, piercings, and prosthetics in the era of post-Cyborgian Primitives

Steve Mann and Joseph Ferenbok,
Surveillance and Society Conference,
2012 April 2-4


Surveillance itself is not a novel concept of contemporary societies. Sun Tzu in the Art of War had suggested thousands of years ago that the higher path was always preferable precisely because of the kind of asymmetric relationships of power that over-sight presents. If you are able to over-see your enemy you are at an advantage: you have gravity and distance (due to your vantage point) on your side. Viewing from below, therefore has, historically, especially when unmediated, been considered to be of a lower power position. This paper looks at how technologically networked portable or wearable cameras change the relationships of power between surveillance and inverse surveillance ("sousveillance").

Veillance and Sur-veillance

Surveillance is a French word, whose etymology can be traced to the French, SUR ("above") and VEILLER ("to watch"). Thus, literally, surveillance means to "watch from above". The closest English word is "oversight", although, in common English usage, the words "surveillance" and "oversight" do not mean exactly the same thing in their common usage.

The meaning of these terms and their implications for a range of scholarship are, in fact, far more nuanced. From data analytics to Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) the forms and types of surveillance systems have changed, expanded and become at once both deep and broad, i.e. both more specialized, and more ubiquitous.

David Lyons (1994) has argued that surveillance is a necessary part of modern societies. In this paper, we consider this generalized term, "surveillance", as composed of two concepts:

The useful and beneficial, and in-fact necessary infrastructure by which modern societies, societies-of-strangers (Lyon 2004), monitor individuals to deliver rights, services, and due punishment, is regarded in this paper as "veillance", which is understood to be the monitoring of modern societies through technological mediation of its citizens, members, and groups etc, both from above (i.e. those in high places watching those in low places) and from below (i.e. those in low places watching those in high places). For example, modern societies require infrastructures for governance, voting, credit, health-care, social justice, human rights, etc..

Within the complex socio-technical milieu of the modern state, "velliance" can be further unpacked into "SURVEILLANCE" and "SOUSVEILLANCE". Both these forms of VEILLANCE are related to the relationships of power between the subject and the agent. Following its etymology, surveillance and "over-sight" may be thought of as approximate reciprocals of souveillance and "under-sight", in situations where they both represent a power relationship between an observer and the observed. In this sense, sousveillance may be described as "watchful vigilance from below". But surveillance and sousveillance go beyond a 20th century "us versus them" argument and need to be understood in the broader intellectual landscape. The nature of surveillance itself has been irrevocably changed by digitization, networking and ubiquitous computing. Surveillance has pushed well beyond Foucault's vision of its prison context. Surveillance has both diversified in the kinds of looking and the kinds of power relationships it involves, and it has become abstracted to the level of symbols, or binary codes, aggregated and reconstituted at will, by those who control it.

Whereas surveillance and over-sight once literally meant to watch from above, increasingly the word "surveillance" (and the word "oversight", its literal English translation) has taken on a broader meaning in both the "over" and the "sight" parts:

Thus a police officer recording your telephone conversations from the basement of a police headquarters is still doing "sur-veillance" even if they are down in a basement with their eyes closed, listening intently on their earphones. And a presidential oversight committee eavesdropping on that police officer, unbeknownst to the officer, is yet another form of surveillance == meta-surveillance (i.e. a form of surveillance of the surveillance that is not necessarily sousveillance).

And sousveillance is not counter-surveillance. If we're being followed by a stalker late at night, we probably would be glad to have a hidden wearable camera with a secret "panic button" we could press to stream live video to our friends (and maybe to the police) AND we would probably also be glad there were cameras on the lamp posts as well (unless our stalker was a corrupt policeman being helped by those cameras).

Thus wearing a camera does not necessarily mean we're "shooting back" against surveillance. We might actually be in favour of both forms of veillance, especially in times of danger or high risk.

The data, information, knowledge, and wisdom we generate online and offline are increasingly the subjects of inspection, analysis, and aggregation by those in high places (governments, corporations, and other large organizations). Sur-veillance has become more of a matter of collecting and analyzing information rather than merely "looking down at people". Also the very act of looking, "veillance", has become abstracted into algorithms and databases hidden behind the data-shadows we leave behind. We are no longer "looked-at" from a hilltop or a high turret; we are now inspected years after our lives have changed, by images, etc., captured into government and corporate databases. Data from our present and past can be searched "looked-at" by authorities and corporations across the boundaries of time and space, e.g. from distant cities, or at times in the distant future. And the "looking" does not stop here: increasingly, algorithms are being taught to look ahead, to anticipate our potential actions. What has remained constant though is the relationship of power between the gaze of power and its subject, and that power favours the institutionalized agent, or agency, be it government or corporate or the hybrid entities ---- "covernments" and "gorporations".

Sousveillance and inverse surveillance

Sousveillance has been proposed as (1) an approximate inverse of surveillance, or (2) as the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity, e.g. through wearable computing, cyborglogging (also known as lifeglogging, lifelogging, moblogging, etc.), and the like [Mann, Nolan, Wellman 2003]. Here we extend the concept of sousveillance to include a potentially balancing socio-technical form of gazing, that when combined with "cloud-sourcing" and "people power", can be understood as a foundational and necessary safety mechanism of any "free" society.

Sousveillance, differs critically from surveillance in the relationship of power between the observing gaze and its subjects. Where the "sur" in "sur-veillance" embodies the metaphoric advantages of the perspective of a high vantage point, and of gravity, sousveillance faces these same conditions as obstetrical to overcome. The strategies by which souveillance is able to challenge the dominant perspectives and overcome the pull of corruption through established inertia, are the politics of souveillance. Can "looking from below" (sousveillance) provide the missing element that oversight alone cannot? Can under-sight remedy the power asymmetries of surveillance?

Sousveillance is very much a personal DIY (do-it-yourself) technology, in contrast to the more organized hierarchical top-down structure of surveillance. But the relationships of power, the politicts of sousveillance are not as linear

Politics of Policing, Piercings, and Prosthetics

In an ideal world, where sousveillance helps to mitigate the power asymmetries of surveillance, there may exist a state of equiveillance--where the distribution of power allows the watchers to be watched. This paper addresses the concepts of surveillance, sousvaillance and equiveillance in relation to concepts of asymmetries of power. However, the interaction between different layers of surveillance and sousveillance (i.e. towards equiveillance) form a continual social struggle between the needs and rights of individuals verses institutionalized power. The increasingly common practice of viewing from below has challenged the advantage (to those in power) of policing from above. Mobile and portable wireless internet portals from phones to "wearables", to "" are pushing back against the long "invisible" arm of the law. From Rodney King to present day Officer Bubbles, cameras have become records ---- often contested ---- of sousveillance that have helped push back against the surveilant norm. The mobile or portable or wearable wireless web camera is now increasingly so with wireless networking, and has become threatening to the surveillance monopoly that some police (especially those who are corrupt) have come accustomed to. For example, in Boston, the police (wrongfully) arrested a citizen for filming in a public space police in the execution of their duty. (“City of Boston pays $170,000 to settle landmark case involving man arrested for recording police with cell phone | ACLU of Massachusetts,” n.d.). This legal and perhaps more importantly public victory for individuals, presents an example of tensions ahead between surveillance and sousveillance.

When SurVeillance and SousVeillance don't cancel each other out exactly:

In this matter with the Boston Police, the tensions between sur and sousveillance played out between the police, Mr. Glik, and the legal system, also represent a kind of interaction that involves something we choose to describe by the word "potence".

Consider the extent to which surveillance and sousveillance are approximate inverses of each other, by considering, separately, a "veillance" axis (watchfullness from either direction), and a "potence" axis (efficacy, deterrence, power, politics, etc.). In particular, we look at the residual-veillance, i.e. the degree to which surveillance and sousveillance do not exactly cancel one another out, as a measure of the opacity (or lack of freedom) in a society.

It may be useful to think of surveillance and sousveillance on the following axes:

In particular, the French word for gallows, "la potence", derives from the Latin word for power, "potentia", from potens, meaning “powerful”. Potence represents the coersive physical and/or ideological enforcement informed by surveillance.

Picture, for example, the typical courthouse of days not-long-ago, which would often have large gallows erected out in front of it. Gallows and gibbets were often placed at prominent locations in a city. Examples include the famous Tyburn Tree in London (a massive triple-branch gallows that could hang 24 convicts at the same time), and "Le Gibet de Montfaucon" high on a hill in France.

Gallows appear in much of our culture's idoms and popular media, with expressions like "to fall off the cart" or "hanged if I know". Walt Disney's "Hocus Pocus" opens with three witches on the gallows. The opening of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 features a child being hanged on massive gallows.

Foucault's book "Surveiller et Punir" outlines how surveillance is inextricably interwined with punishment and power relationships.

Artists Stephanie and Christina Mann (ages 5 and 9) built a conceptual art sculpture entitled "La Potence de la Surveillance" (see below) that touches on this theme:

La Potence (the gallows) is a metaphor for the ultimate deterrance, like a "hanging judge" at one of the old court houses that used to have gallows right out in front of the court house.

Broadly speaking, "potence" refers to the ability to "hang someone" (metaphorically) based on evidence gathered ---- a kind of power of the institutional document, instutitional ways of knowing discussed by Tagg (1988).

Surveillance and sousveillance can both be used as evidence in a court-of-law or in the court of public opinion to metaphorically "hang" (i.e. embarrass, convict, imprison, fine, or put on a virtual "public pillory") someone.

Control-theory gives us two elements that must be present to achive control:

In this sense, the observability is the surveillance and the controllability is the "potence" ("Guns, Gaols, Gallows, and Gibbets" so-to-speak).

If we think of surveillance and sousveillance as "vectors" then the residue that remains from imperfect cancellation between surveillance and sousveillance is what we might refer to as "potence" or lack thereof or need thereof.

Consider first the case where we have an exact cancellation between surveillance and sousveillance, as might be the case between equally "potent" parties, e.g. a small one-person shop in which the shopkeeper puts up a camera to stop shoplifting, and a small one-person sousveillance team, e.g. someone wearing a camera. Neither party wields the "gun" or the "gallows" so-to-speak. Surveillance and sousveillance approximately cancel each other out, assuming the shopper can use human rights laws to prevent the shopkeeper from preventing her from entering his premises wearing her camera.

Consider next the case where we have imperfect cancellation, e.g. a policeman with a gun and an attitude, who has editorial control over surveillance camera in a police station, where the ordinary citizen walks in wearing her camera. In this case the veillances may cancel, but the potences do not cancel, i.e. the policeman wields the "guns and gallows", which the citizen does not wield.

It is the latter case that we must focus on solving, i.e. this is where we require a kind of "citizen potence" of sorts. This is a key point, that sousveillance, like surveillance, is only as effective as the mechanisms (eg. media channels) that facilitate their information exchange.

We call this citizen potence "swollag" ---- "gallows" spelled backwards ---- a concept for sousveillance that is analogous to the "potence" of surveillance.

Publicization of malfeasance is one kind of "swollag", e.g. the citizen can publish a video that makes the policeman look stupid, e.g. "Officer Bubbles", the officer who arrested a girl for blowing bubbles because one of the bubbles hit him == physical assault. In this case, she was able to "hang" the officer in the court of public ridicule. A shortcoming of this "metaphorical gallows" of public embarrassment is that it might not be as economically sustainable as the "surveillance superhighway".

For swollag to be effective, it may need some kind of financial source of revenue with which to sustain itself. To continue with the gallows-metaphor, what we need is a way for retributive justice to follow, e.g. could the victim of Officer Bubbles somehow profit financially (or at least cover her expenses) at the expense of Officer Bubbles. Perhaps if she could have sold the footage for profit, the profits going towards her expenses or injustice. For example, perhaps what sousveillance needs is a big insurance company that could give out free wearable cameras and lower insurance premiums to those who use them, and the insurance company would sue the malfeasors. This model might be one example of adding "swollag" to an otherwise too-weak form of sousveillance.

Moreover, if surveillance pushes crime and corruption further up ladder the negative effect of the very surveillance pushing crime Upwards itself becomes more negative. In the limit, we get positive feedback and run-away corruption that leads to totalitarianism ---- making the negative effects of the surveillance even worse, and also requiring a greater amount of sousveillance to remedy or balance.

Thus when there is a risk that surveillance may feed back on itself in this way and "run away" sousveillance needs more "swollag" if it is to act as effective undersight. The higher the corruption the more swollag required of sousveillance, for it to be an effective strategy of undersight.

The Ladder Theory of Veillance: Surveillance and its potential conflict-of-interest

In order to better understand the interplay between surveillance and sousveillance, let us first examine the mechanisms by which surveillance operates within its usual social hierarchy. For this purpose we use the metaphor of the social "ladder of life".
Now as the ladder of life 'as been strung
You may think a sweep's on the bottommost rung
-- Chim Chim Cher-ee, Mary Poppins

Migration versus Movement-Without-Motion

Consider the example of installing surveillance cameras in only the East side of town (see below).

This could cause a Westward shift in crime's equilibrium, which may be due to two different phenomena:

  1. Migrated Crime: when the cameras are installed in the East End, some criminals may migrate westward to avoid (or to take advantage of) the cameras;
  2. Chased Crime: when the cameras are installed in the East End, more criminals may be caught there, causing a shift in the market equilibrium. For example, the increased effectiveness of East-End law enforcement may create a vacuum in the marketplace for stolen goods. The demand for stolen goods remains, but the reduced supply can drive up the price of the stolen goods. This increased price of stolen goods may cause more West-End inhabitants to consider criminal activity, if the criminal activity is made more lucrative.
These two phenomena are different forms of westward motion. The first is actual movement, whereas the latter is motion without movement. The latter is akin to the light chasers seen around theatre marquees, pizza signs, and the like. A light chaser creates motion without movement. The lights chase around the sign by turning on and off in sequence, one after the other. The light bulbs do not move, but motion is generated by way of a sequence of illumination. Thus we call this "motion without movement" effect "Chased Crime" (akin to the light chaser).

A similar effect happens when we watch a video, movie or motion picture film. The movie screen itself is not moving, and the pixels on a television screen do not actually move, but, rather, the motion in a motion picture film is generated by the sequence of pixels (or projected light) turning on and off in the right sequence, that motion is generated on-screen.

Movement from the East side of a video screen or television to the West side is created by Eastern pixels being extinguished, followed by new (different) Western pixels being illuminated. This is the sense by which we mean something on the screen "moves West". Like the light-chaser, the pixels "chase" west, to create motion without actual physical movement.

Thus some criminals actually move West, whereas crimes move West by being stopped ("extinguished") on the east side, and and re-born (as new crimes) in the West-End.

Pushing Crime Upwards!

Consider the case where surveillance cameras are also placed in the West-End, i.e. where cameras are everywhere. Installing surveillance cameras everywhere means that police are watching citizens, shopkeepers are watching shoppers, taxicab drivers are watching passengers, etc.. Thus, those on the bottommost rung of the social hierarchy are under close scrutiny, whereas those on the next rung, e.g. police, shopkeepers, and taxicab drivers, may escape some of this scrutiny. With surveillance to the East and West (and everywhere else), crime may be driven Upward, from a lower rung of the ladder of power and political hiearchy, to higher rungs of this ladder (see below). In this example, it is not that over-sight (even in the panoptic sense) necessarly result in corruption, but that surveillance provides the opportuntities, precisely because of the power asymmetries built into surveillance systems, for corruption, or for the ‘movement’ of crime up the proverbial ladder.

Here we see that surveillance may help facilitate corruption at higher levels of observation and information gathering. Of course to say generally that "surveillance causes corruption" would be an oversimplification, but surveillance does make it more difficult to commit petty crimes such as pick pocketing and shoplifting, while possibly maintaining opportunities for police officers, shopkeepers, and others at the next-higher level of the social hierarchy to continue to commit crimes.

Does installing surveillance everywhere cause crime to move Upward, up the hiearchy? And what does that mean? It is obviously easy for a criminal to walk a few blocks West when cameras are put in the East-End, but how can an uneducated street thug possibly become a highly trained police officer and perpetrate corruption? While the East-West migration can happen in a matter of minutes, the up-down migration may take years, or never happen at all.

However, recall that there are two forms of motion: (1) migration; and (2) motion-without-movement. Thus crime may move Upward by the following means:

  1. Migrated Crime: when the cameras are installed in the East End and West End (i.e. throughout all the streets), can street criminals migrate Upward to avoid the cameras (i.e. become police officers and possibly use the surveillance cameras to stalk their victims)?;
  2. Chased Crime: when surveillance cameras are installed throughout all the streets, street crime may be reduced everywhere. Street thugs may be caught and sent to jail, or otherwise shut down, causing a shift in the market equilibrium. For example, the increased effectiveness of law enforcement may create a vacuum in the marketplace for stolen goods. The demand for stolen goods remains, but the reduced supply can drive up the price of the stolen goods. This increased price of stolen goods may cause more Upward inhabitants to consider criminal activity, if the criminal activity is made more lucrative. Moreover, a new possibility of using (or temptation to use) the surveillance cameras for criminal purposes (e.g. police stalking potential victims) could be more tempting to certain members of law enforcement. [Cleaner says she was stalked on CCTV by security guard - News -, Monday 14 March 2011 22:53. (n.d.)]
Here is a short quote from the article:
A SECURITY guard at one of Edinburgh's best-known visitor attractions used CCTV cameras to stalk a young female worker...

James Tuff used the camera system ... to track his victim and then radio her with lewd comments.

Tuff eventually sexually assaulted Dora Alves ... He was fined and placed on the sex offenders register for three years. ... She said: "At first it was just the odd comment about my body; he would say things about me having a real woman's body ... "But soon after he would appear out of nowhere when I was cleaning in the toilets. ... as she walked to the canteen on her break and stopped to collect something from her locker. "Mr Tuff came out of his office and grabbed me from behind. ... She said CCTV footage which could have proved the incident took place had gone missing.

This case raises some interesting issues, such as the conflict-of-interest in surveillance (e.g. CCTV footage mysteriously disappearing when under the control of police).

The fruits of our labours exist within a market equilibrium. When goods are easily stolen, they exist like Low-Hanging Fruit (LHF), and if there were such LHF everywhere, its price would be relatively low.

But when some or most of this LHF is eliminated, thus reducing the supply of stolen "fruit", the demand for it may continue to exist. When the demand remains and the supply is reduced, the price escalates, creates new opportunities for crime in higher places or insider-trading in stolen fruit. And ladders are needed to reach the higher fruits, there exists both (1) an increased incentive for thieves to climb such ladders; and (2) an increased incentive for those already further up these ladders to consider the possibility of stealing these higher fruits, because of their increased value arising from the fruit shortages created by eliminating LHF.

There thus exists a possibility for surveillance to facilitate corruption, and there certainly have been some documented instances of this. Quantification of this effect remains a topic of future research on the practices of sousveillance of institutional agents.

Conflict-of-interest inherent in surveillance

Typically surveillance is done in secret, e.g. the video from surveillance cameras used or installed by police is not as freely and easily available to ordinary citizens as it is to the police.

Moreover, there have been numerous documented cases of police destroying evidence that might incriminate them. The Tuff case above, where the CCTV footage disappeared, is not an isolated example. For example, in a case of mistaken identity, police shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician, and then the police lied about what happened ---- claiming he was running from them, when in fact he was just calmly walking and did nothing threatening. The police seized the hard drives from four separate surveillance systems in the area, and later reported that all four hard drives were blank, i.e. that no data was recorded by any of the surveillance cameras in the area. Despite the fact that no surveillance recordings in the area survived, the incident was captured by sousveillance (i.e. by citizens with camera phones in the area).

Does police oversight cause high-level corruption?

Oversight committees may minimize this situation, i.e. where employees such as officers are watched by someone further up the ladder.

Indeed, Foucault essentially asked "who watches the watcher?" (1995). Traditionally, oversight has been the immediate answer. But, more oversight only pushes the potential of corruption even higher up the proverbial ladder-of-life. Oversight can shift crime even further up this ladder, i.e. toward higher-level corruption (see below).

Foucault (1995) advocated an open society, where the mechanisms of control and surveillance are open and subject to pubic scrutiny. Ideally these would be part of a larger mechanism of "potence" that mediates the tension between undersight and oversight.

This is not to say that surveillance is the cause of corruption, or that oversight is the cause of high-level corruption, anymore than saying that installing cameras in the East end causes crime in the West end. But surveillance often does leave the door open to corruption. In some sense, surveillance is like locking only some of the doors to crime (e.g. the basement doors), while leaving the upper doors wide-open.

Moreover high-level oversight, such as congressional oversight investigating a corrupt Chief of Police, has the possibility, by the same means, push this high-level corruption even higher, up to the level of President or Prime minister (see below).

Of even greater concern is also the possibility that oversight may push crime and corruption to more unseen height obscured by the public eye. Indeed, massive investments in police infrastructure and police oversight may actually create a massively secret and powerful-yet-unaccountable force in society whose crimes are much more far-reaching than any low-level street crime.

Building a society with oversight-only, would be an oversight on our part

Surveillance provides an incomplete picture that leaves room for corruption, and this incompleteness cannot be fixed with oversight alone.

A society without sousveillance and undersight, i.e. a society with surveillance and oversight-only, may leave itself open to this Upward-migration of crime and corruption.

We believe that "a society with oversight-only is an oversight on our part".

We need some way to guard against the possibility that surveillance may push crime up into the middle rungs of the "ladder of life", and that oversight may push crime up to the top rungs. A proposed solution to this problem is sousveillance, in particular, inverse-surveillance, as a way of balancing an otherwise one-sided "surveillance-only" society. Inverse surveillance might, for example, include citizens photographing police misconduct, shoppers photographing shopkeepers, and passengers photographing reckless cab drivers from within the very cab that might, for example, be involved in an automobile accident. This sort of information, taken from below, then communicated and spread through a social/media network can achieve a level of sousveillance-efficacy ("swollag") that may result in a change in policy. An important aspect of inverse surveillance is that it emanates from individuals recording their personal experience and their immediate vicinity, rather than the recording/monitoring of individuals by an outside party.

The upward-gaze of sousveillance (see below) provides a possibility of creating balance (equiveillance) between surveillance and sousveillance.

Placing those in the upper echelons of society over sousveillance potentially allows all persons, not just those down at street-level, to enjoy the benefits of a society with veillance.

The Green face of surveillance: Environmentalist surveillance, concomitant cover activity, and surveillance-cammoflage

Surveillance practices are increasingly being hidden in other institutional architectures, such as digital signage with face-recognition cameras, and utility meters as Eco-veillance.

Video surveillance networks and what have been referred to as "digital signage-networks" (Pam Dixion, "The One-Way Mirror Society", 2010) such as Intellistreets (six cameras and an LED pixelboard in every streetlight, giving every lamp post "people-counting" and face-recognition capability) have changed the public face of surveillance from a police-matter to a citywide surveillance+signage system. This gives the "eyes on the street" a new friendlier corporate visage. Digital signage personifies the once faceless surveillance cameras. Moreover, the new surveillance is green-technology, i.e. the streetlights automatically count people, cars, bicycles, etc., and dim or brighten according to what is happening on the street. How could anyone possibly object to video surveillance that saves electricity and the planet, even if it embodies homeland security as a concomitant cover activity (cite Mann, Linux journal, Jul 2000).

Envirotech: Human-environment interaction

Technologies like smart floors, smart elevators, smart streets, and other forms of "environmental intelligence" (i.e. of putting "intelligence" into our immediate environment) present unique challenges and opportunities.

This trend is refered to in a number of research fields as "Things That Think (TTT)", "ubiquitous computing (ubiqcomp)", "pervasive computing (pervcomp)", "the internet of things", etc. [cite Ratto 2011]. This trend towards "smart" ambient computing also has the less discussed side-effect of producing minable data about our patterns actions and interactions; and perhaps more significantly, provide the infrastructure for as-yet-unimagined future surveillance practices. For example:

modern LED streetlights have video cameras in them that "watch" what people are doing and adjust the lighting according to use [Intellistreets, and Philips Lumimotion, for example].

"Lamps fitted with cameras detect the presence of cyclists or pedestrians and switch on the LED lights in turn, as the cyclist or pedestrian travels along the path. The Philips LumiMotion technology used means that the power output of the lighting can be increased gradually point by point from 10% in standby lighting to 100% ... whenever a presence is detected. The lamps are switched on at a rate designed to coincide with the speed of the cyclist or pedestrian."

Similar lights are being manufactured for indoor use as well [Texas Instruments, and Lyrtech, for example]. Vision-based "smart lights" result in tremendous energy savings, as they adjust the light output "intelligently" based on the number of people present and what the people are doing.

Water is a unique and personal element in this context. When these same technologies are applied to water management, important new issues arise.

Some of our early work with water involved sensing and computation. For example, a new kind of sensor-operated faucet that used artificial intelligence to do object-recognition, and adjust the water according to sensed uses, was invented.

It can distinguish the difference between, for example, tooth brushing, hand-washing, or filling a drinking bottle, and automatically adjusts the temperature, flow-rate, and degree of aeration (frothiness) to suit the task that it senses the user doing. See below.

Experimental vision-based intelligent handwash faucet. A miniature underwater or waterproof camera built into the faucet and uses artificial intelligence and object recognition to automatically select temperature, flow-rate, and aeration based on identifying what the user is doing.

See Canadian Patent 2354113 for water management using image sensors, processors, and control systems.

More recently a number of companies are now using this vision-based water-sensing technology.

The vision-based water-controller is also used in showers to save water. Vision-based sensing in showers creates obvious privacy problems, and we had to invent additional technologies to solve these problems. That in itself requires that the research be cross-disciplinary, as it, by nature, must involve social, policy, ethical, and legal disciplines in addition to science, engineering, and mathematics.

Camera-based artifial intelligence systems are now used in water centres around the world to do automatic drowning detection, to count bathers (to automatically monitor bather-loads), to do automatic slip-and-fall detection in public washrooms, as well as to automate water flow and water management. For example, Texas Instruments has developed a camera-based vision system for use in washrooms, and Delta Faucet's latest washroom automation devices (faucets, toilets, etc.) use a pixel array rather than just a single sensing element. These PSDs (`Position Sensing Devices'') result in fewer false flushes and quicker-responding handwash faucets.

Additionally computer vision technology is used on public beaches to automatically count bathers (e.g. to automatically generate statistics of the number of sunbathers verus the number of people in the water), measure water height, rip currents, sand migration, and the like. [``How Many People in the Sandbox? An Application of Video Imagery to Quantifying Beach Use in Hawaii and Australia'', by David Revell, ASBPA National Coastal Conference: Integrating Coastal Science and Policy, Tradewinds Island Resort, St. Pete Beach, FL, Tuesday, 2009 Oct. 13.]


Increasingly cameras are encroaching on public and publically accessible spaces, and yet little is being done to promote public rights in to their information or to protect the interests of individuals. Indeed, surveillance is far from neutral technology. It carries with it an inherent conflict-of-interest due to the fact that its view-from-above is usually managed by those in high places. Should surveillance capture wrongdoing by those in high places, the data often mysteriously disappears, or at the very least is hard to obtain by those in lower places.

Souseillance as inclusive design

Sousveillance fills in an important gap in the one-sided view of surveillance. Together surveillance and sousveillance creates a new veillance that has the potential to be more fair and balanced, and to be more inclusive, i.e. to include those in high places into the world of accountability.

In this sense, sousveillance is "inclusive design" (and also "participatory design") for now it allows those in high places to be, as subjects over sousveillance, included within the benefits of veillance.

However, some persons in high places have opposed sousveillance. For example, we see an antagonism toward sousveillance, with signage like "please do not take video or photos" or "No video or photo taking", even in open space that's under video surveillance as well as visible from public walkways and surrounding buildings. See for example, Island Resort: which is, by way of its own surveillance cameras, in violation of its own policy.

Many business establishements such as department stores and grocery stores attempt to prohibit cameras and cellphones. See for example:


The irony of treating cameras and cellphones as contraband in semi-public places is that this trend seems to come around the same time as the proliferation of CCTV surveillance cameras.

But more and more people are using their cellphones, smartphones, cameraphones, and the like as day-to-day technology they depend on. For example, in our lab we invented the EyeTap electric eyeglasses, which can work as an "eyePhone" to help people see better through eyeglass prescriptions downloaded to the eyeglasses, as well as overlay of Google Streetview, and the like, into one's reality stream.

Wearable cameras and eyelectric eyeglasses help people see better.

In the future, when a security guard demands a patron remove their electric eyeglasses, the guard may be liable when the patron trips and falls. The authority of the guard does not extend to mandating eyeglass prescriptions of their customers.

The old mechanism of anti-sousveillance is increasingly becoming impossible in a world of information, ubiquitous cameras, and widespread unstoppable sousveillance.

The irony in these supermarkets that prohibit cameraphones is that they often sell products that have have QR codes and the like that encourage customers to use their camera phones to photograph them and look up product information that might help them in their purchase decisions:

"SCAN ME... Use your smartphone to scan this QR code..." says the box in a store where cellphones and cameras are forbidden.

Consider, also, for example, QR codes in a film shown in a movie theatre. In this case patrons would be both forbidden from, and required to, photograph the content on the movie screen.

The inherent conflict-of-interest inherent in surveillance has often been shown when police wrongdoing is captured by video.

"On Memorial Day 2011, Narces Benoit witnessed and filmed a group of Miami police officers shooting and killing a suspect... officers who handcuffed him and smashed his cell phone,... Officers again took his phone, demanding his video. He said they took him to a nearby mobile command center, snapped a picture of him, then took him to police headquarters and conducted a recorded interview while he kept the [memory] card in his mouth.... So now the cops are committing armed robbery? ... Police have a hard job but acting like thugs will make things worse. There will be more and more "hidden" video with all the technology available. The police in this situation should be sued for STEALING AND DESTROYING private property. - Lisa Rose-Hawkins, Abilene, Texas, 07/6/2011 16:50 "

["Give us your phone or else: The moment police pointed gun at head of innocent witness who had filmed cops killing driver with 100 bullets", By MARK DUELL, ]

Potere et la potence de la veillance: Hanging our hopes on equiveillance

Together with increased surveillance has come the often illegal police prohibition on photography in public places (cite Potere, Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 106, 2012) (cite Frank Möller, Celebration and Concern Digitization, Camera Phones and the Citizen-Photographer).

Thus there is an abundance of space "over which the police and CCTV systems have exclusive photographic rights" (Möller). In the past, the "always-on" cameras that watched us were mainly "archi-centric" (part of the architecture, i.e. attached to buildings and lamp posts). But now cameras are also becoming human-centric (attached to people) -- not just camera phones, but also wearable cameras. In 2004 Neil Harbisson, a colourbind arts student who always wears a camera as a seeing aid to see colour, had a passport issued with his "eyeborg", and similiarly, in 1995, Mann also had a passport depicting his "cyborg self". In both cases, doctors' documentation was required. Many of these seeing aids provide wayfinding (e.g. Google Streetview overlaid on top of reality) and also function like the "black box" flight recorder on an aircraft by becoming a personal safety device. We have also built implantable camera systems for the visually impaired, as well as "cyborgian primitives" camera-based implants as body art ["Cyborg...", Randomhouse, Mann 2001].

We look at the way individuals will participate in managing their own identity and personal safety + persona == not as passive surveilled masses, but as participants in the new "*veillance" (surveillance AND sousveillance). Does this veillance better capture the dynamics between surveillance and sousveillance through "potence", the infrastructures that support a balance of power towards a state of equiveillance? Like the small town in which the sheriff knows what everyone's up to but everyone knows what the sheriff's up to to too. Or do self-created personas and DIY bodyart force us to rethink the question of participatory panopticon? Or where docile bodies can look back at the guards to monitor the mechanism of their self-imprisonment?


Drawings and illustrations: Stephanie Mann (age 5), Christina Mann (age 9), Steve Mann, and Mike Zandwyk.

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