An Auckland-wide surveillance network of CCTV cameras is
being stitched together in Auckland as the forerunner of a
national system which could include facial recognition
The network will include thousands of cameras which will be
available for police to use under a formal agreement with the
The agreement says the system would need to be reviewed to
take into account rapidly evolving technology "including face
recognition and licence plate recognition, adding that the
council itself might also look at enhanced technologies".
Civil liberties advocates have expressed concern over the
project, suggesting it means everyone is a suspect while
advocates for the system say it will help make the city
Documents through the Official Information Act set out rules
through which police would be allowed to access live feeds
from the cameras, including "specific crime and safety
hot-spots", traffic management and real-time matters being
investigated or responded by police.
Police would also be able to take direct control of the
cameras for emergencies, public safety issues, "real-time
crime prevention investigations or activities" and traffic
The guidelines also allow for surveillance or monitoring of
"specific individuals for specific criminal acts, organised
crime or other reasonably suspected criminal behaviour"
including terrorism. Access is granted for those purposes "on
the basis of such evidence or reasonable suspicion of
Police can currently request footage from council but have no
formal arrangement. They have not been able to access live
feeds or take direct control of the cameras.
The project is being overseen by the Crime Prevention
Partnership Forum which is made up of the security industry
group, police, Auckland Council and retail industry
Minutes from its only meeting quote police headquarters
Inspector Rob Duindam stating the Auckland project "would
have a wider application."
"We are now looking at trying to get some shape around it on
a national basis which ... is both doable and in fact is
The project builds on work in Auckland Council to bring its
CCTV network together.
Auckland Transport's network alone includes 2500 cameras on
bus, ferry, rail and road networks. There are hundreds of
others dotted through retail and recreation centres across
A spokesman for police headquarters said CCTV had benefits
for crime prevention, community safety and emergency
"Once finalised they could form the basis of similar
arrangements elsewhere in NZ for police access to public
facing CCTV owned by local authorities and associated
He said discussions acknowledged the capabilities of new
technologies in networked CCTV, including facial recognition
and automatic number plate recognition. But he said there are
no plans at this time for the use of these technologies by
police in any national networked CCTV system.
Auckland Council community policy manager Manoj Ragupathy
said a stocktake of cameras was under way.
NZ Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Batch Hales said
those introducing such a system needed to explain why it was
"The other issue is the philosophy behind it that everyone is
effectively a suspect so we need to check on everyone to make
sure they are not."
A 2012 survey found 93 per cent of Kiwis believed it was
acceptable for police to use facial recognition technology to
help identify people from security camera footage.
Caught on camera
• Auckland Council, police, retailers' groups and the
security association are working to build a network of CCTV
• The council doesn't know how many cameras exist and is
carrying out a stocktake.
• Auckland Transport has about 2500 cameras on its bus,
ferry, rail and road network.
• Police will be allowed access under a set of conditions and
will be able to carry out surveillance of specific
individuals under some circumstances.
• All parties to the project cite privacy as an important
principle to be recognised.
- David Fisher, NZ Herald