Superposition reveals the disturbing reach of facial recognition tech in NYC with this interactive data visualisation project

Superposition, the Netherlands-based design studio focusing on interactive experiences, has unveiled a new project with Amnesty International, visualising sobering research on invasive facial recognition technology (FRT) in New York, which shows how FRTs enable racist policing. Part of Amnesty’s Ban the Scan campaign, Inside the NYPD’s Surveillance Machine is an interactive data visualisation project that allows users to plot a walking route through New York City and see how much of this route might be exposed to surveillance.
To urge the New York City Council to ban the use of the technology, Superposition had to create an interactive digital experience that was widely accessible and conveyed the urgency of Amnesty’s findings. When you enter Inside the NYPD’s Surveillance Machine, the site allows you to query routes between two locations, like Google Maps, before revealing what per cent of your chosen path will be exposed to FRTs. The data is projected onto a map of New York City, allowing visitors to see which route points are under surveillance.
In a release, Amnesty explains that FRT was used at Black Lives Matter protest sites in 2020 to “identify, track and harass people who are simply exercising their human rights”. Amnesty International’s Ban the Scan site explains: “The New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) surveillance machinery disproportionally threatens the rights of non-white New Yorkers.” It goes on to explain that while FRT for identification violates the right to privacy and enables racist policing, the NYPD used the technology in “22,000 cases between 2016 and 2019”.

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