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Co-creating Portland’s surveillance technologies inventory with the community

News Article
Acute angle view of street corner; Alladin Theater on one side and a group of people near sidewalk tables on the other
The Smart City PDX program is coordinating activities to inform about surveillance technologies. These events are also to co-create the City of Portland’s surveillance technologies inventory. This inventory will collect information about the surveillance technologies owned by city bureaus.

There were two virtual events (June 7 and June 24) and two in-person focus groups (Guerreras Latinas and the Miracles Club) organized in June 2023. These events helped to inform about the most important information about the inventory.

These events highlighted concerns and the need for public participation. Portlanders want to understand technology impacts in neighborhoods.

What is the inventory about?

Portland surveillance technologies inventory is an effort for more transparency. It will also help to explain how the city decides and uses technology.

Surveillance technologies collect information from people’s lives. They can harm certain communities or impact people’s civil liberties. These technologies can also provide valuable information to city agencies. Responsible use can benefit the same communities and improve how local government works.

Information technologies can process data and can multiply benefits and impacts. For instance, artificial intelligence is an emergent tool that multiplies impacts. We found that there is a great need for digital literacy and more effective public participation. This process intends to to both.

Public engagement and responsible technology

Our program has been partnering with the office of equity and human rights. We have developed policies, procedures, and public engagement on privacy. We intend to produce more responsible, transparent, and accountable use of technology.

The surveillance technologies resolution directs the design and implementation of this inventory. This inventory needs to be open and available by March 31, 2024.

Designing the inventory

Our program has been working with a steering group to facilitate public input. We want Portlanders to participate in this process.  The steering group is also helping to make this process more open and inclusive.

Our team has a survey to collect input from Portlanders to inform this initial version of the inventory. We are asking what information should be in this inventory. This survey includes a section about what concerns Portlanders have about surveillance technologies. It also includes a detailed technical information section for those who feel more skilled.

This technical section includes five areas of information that describe a surveillance technology:

Basic information. This section includes the required information about the technology. It includes name, description of the project, and owner agency of the technology.

Uses and applications. This section describes the purpose of the technology, justification, laws, and documentation.

Data. This section includes source data, data types, metadata, private information, public records, etc.

Processing. This section includes uses of data, transformations, sharing, and destruction.

Oversight. This last section includes how to keep technology accountable. It includes measures of success, any human or automatic monitoring. It also covers controls, audits, public intervention, and regulators.

How to access the survey?

Help us identify what information must part of this inventory. What needs to be a priority and what optional or informative.

 This survey may take you between 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

The inventory is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed in the buttons below.

Access the survey in English

Entre a la encuesta en Español