City of Darwin reassures on safety and privacy

By Jonathan Nally
Thursday, 08 August, 2019

City of Darwin reassures on safety and privacy

In the wake of the rollout of Darwin’s $10 million smart city initiative, the city’s lord mayor, Kon Vatskalis, has again attempted to assuage public concerns that the northern capital will be a place where your every movement will be tracked.

In a statement released 8 August, Darwin City Council said it “has resolved to implement privacy and security best practice in the gathering, storage and analysis of data collected through its smart technology”.

The statement said that “The use of facial recognition technology is not part of the City of Darwin’s #smartdarwin strategy.”

“The framework Council has agreed to establish will provide an overarching guide to the management of data gathered through our smart technologies and address data privacy, ethics and security,” Vatskalis said.

“Privacy and security are significant concerns for our community, and Council aims to ensure the framework put in place meets our community’s expectations,” he added.

In May, Darwin completed a rapid rollout of smart technologies — one of the biggest in Australia — such as CCTV cameras, Wi-Fi connectivity and environmental sensors.

The $10 million project was funded with $5 million from the federal government and $2.5 million each from the NT Government and City of Darwin.

According to the Council, Darwin’s #smartdarwin strategy is to use technology to “enhance the lives of all those interacting with the city by planning for and delivering better services, improving community safety and enhancing the livability and environmental sustainability of our city.”

“The privacy framework City of Darwin implements will not only comply with all applicable Federal and Territory laws, we also aim to achieve global best practice regarding privacy and the use of surveillance devices,” said the City’s CEO, Scott Waters.

“City of Darwin will be undertaking robust external privacy impact assessments and the findings will be made public to ensure transparency and accountability,” Waters added.

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