New York City has turned to artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance tools to combat fare evasion in subway stations. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has deployed AI surveillance technology in seven subway stations to track the extent of fare evasion. However, the MTA has emphasized that the technology is aimed at quantifying the losses from fare evasion rather than identifying individual offenders. The MTA hopes that the data collected by the AI fare evasion detector software will help devise effective strategies to tackle fare evasion.
The MTA partnered with AWAAIT, a Spain-based AI software company which specializes in detecting fare evasion in real-time. The company’s tool, called DETECTOR, forwards screenshots of fare evasion incidents to ticket inspectors’ smartphones. The deployment of AI technology in subway stations is not without controversy, as privacy advocates have raised concerns about the collection and use of such data. Albert Fox Cahn, founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, expressed alarm over the MTA’s decision to work with a foreign company to track riders without their consent.
While AI surveillance technology has the potential to deter and combat crime effectively, it depends on the humans operating and monitoring the technology. Cameras equipped with AI can identify potential criminals, but it requires law enforcement officers to take action and apprehend them. AI surveillance technology analyzes human behavior and flags abnormalities, allowing for potential dangers to be identified. However, concerns about personal privacy and the possible policing of minor offenses have been raised.
Critics argue that the MTA’s focus on combating fare evasion through expensive AI technology overshadows the fact that the amount spent on these efforts exceeds the cost of fare evasion itself. New York City already has a substantial number of surveillance cameras, leading privacy advocates to question whether the city is becoming overly surveilled. The balance between safety and personal privacy is a contentious issue, and critics argue that the extent of surveillance infringes upon democratic values.
Despite the concerns, the MTA believes that AI surveillance technology can be applied effectively to combat a variety of crimes and ensure safety. It relies on proper implementation and human follow-through to achieve results. While paranoia and overthinking are common when it comes to AI surveillance technology, it is important to distinguish between the technology’s capabilities and the actions taken by law enforcement. Without appropriate action, AI surveillance remains meaningless.
In conclusion, the MTA’s deployment of AI surveillance tools in New York City’s subway stations aims to address the issue of fare evasion. While the technology has the potential to be effective in deterring crime, concerns about personal privacy and the oversight of minor offenses have been raised. The balance between safety and privacy is a key challenge, and critics argue that the level of surveillance is disproportionate. Ultimately, the success of AI surveillance technology lies in the hands of those who operate and monitor it, ensuring appropriate action is taken to maintain public safety.