[Research Summary] Sousveillance


I. About Sousveillance

Sousveillance is defined as the ‘recording of an activity by a participant in the activity’. The participant would typically be wearing a ‘small wearable’ or ‘portable personal technologies’, utilising a range of monitoring methods (e.g. visual and audio surveillance). It also involves both ‘hierarchal sousveillance’ as well as ‘personal sousveillance’ (eye-level, human-centred recording of personal experience), and both processes would typically interchange.  using sousveillance for multimedia purposes allows for ‘effortless capture, processing, storage, recall, and transmission of an activity by a participant in that activity’.

Image result for sousveillance
Image of example of wearable recording devices

Sousveillance is also said to usually involve ‘community-based recording from first person perspectives’, ‘without necessarily involving any specific political agenda’. Inverse-surveillance, on the other hand, is a form of sousveillance that is commonly ‘directed at, or used to collect data to analyse or study, surveillance or its proponents’. 

II. Case study

An example of the use of sousveillance involves wearable cameras by police officers.

Image result for police body cam
Image of body camera

Referred to as ‘body cameras’, these tools encompass the use of video streaming and recording in an archive to monitor the interactions of police officers with criminals and civilians. Despite the reduction in complaints against officers and in the use of violence by officers, there is still the issue of breach of privacy. 

As these body cameras are turned on almost every second, there have been doubts raised about special victim cases where if a camera is shone in front of a victim, he/she may not feel comfortable in sharing information they know.

III. reflection

After finding more about sousveillance in our society today, I feel that it can be a step in the right direction in the field of technology. It can serve as an efficient method in monitoring situations, especially in the area of law enforcement. With suitable equipment in capturing video and audio footage, not only does it uphold the behaviours of law-enforces, but it also can serve as evidence should situations go awry.

Image result for periscope
Image of Periscope app, a live video streaming platform

On the other hand, with the establishment and widespread use of video-sharing platforms, the integrity of sousveillance can be compromised. With the already existent issue of the breach of privacy, the action of unfiltered raw footage of a controversial subject reaching different ends of the earth has the ability to amplify this problem. This could then lead to the increase in radicalism, and creating a ‘dangerous dependence on private platforms’.


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