Friday, November 09, 2018
Creepy cameras appear in downtown Bethesda - are they recording you? (Photos)
With no public announcement of the installation or purpose of the cameras, the appearance of the webcams is rather creepy. I asked Bethesda Urban Partnership about the cameras, and a spokesperson said the organization - which maintains the downtown Bethesda business district - was not aware of them. It's somewhat troubling that such an extensive network of cameras could be installed on public property without Montgomery County government or the public being informed.
The cameras belong to National Data & Surveying Services, which provides them for surveillance purposes, primarily in the field of traffic data collection. They record video around the clock with a birds-eye camera lens. The cameras are also utilized to monitor large public events, and for "graffiti patrol."
Jonathan Brubaker, DMV-area Manager for NDS, says that the cameras are collecting data on the volume and type of vehicles passing by. The footage is not stored, he said, but is turned into data which is then handed over to their clients. When asked if pedestrians' faces are obscured in the collected footage, Brubaker said no facial recognition was being utilized. Are license plates being recorded by the cameras? Brubaker said "no personal information" is being collected.