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Keywords:

  • geosurveillance;
  • public transit;
  • spatial data privacy

ABSTRACT. This article draws from the foundation provided by the ongoing debate about geosurveillance to frame a discussion of the use of tracking technologies in public transit. Specifically, it uses the case of public transit to illustrate the uncomfortable debate about compromises that come with increased surveillance to enhance public safety and security. The article begins with a discussion of the evolution of the debate about geosurveillance, casting the use of surveillance technologies in public transit within this framework. Next, it describes and discusses the implementation of automatic vehicle locators and closed-circuit television in public transit. The following sections focus on the risks to individual privacy that accompany implementation of these technologies, then describe an unusual effort to draw attention to the prevalence of increased surveillance in public spaces in an effort to expose the risks. The article concludes by making the case that public transit is a place where surveillance provides clear benefits but where the humans who review the surveillance data must interpret and use them responsibly to minimize the risks to individual privacy.