External cameras to boost safety on TTC

In a push towards greater security for transit users, the TTC has unveiled plans to add external cameras on its new buses and streetcars. The cameras, which are set to be activated early next year, come in the wake of numerous traffic incidents involving transit vehicles. The new technology will also target vehicles that fail to yield when streetcar and bus doors open to allow passengers on and off.

"Primarily it's about safety, and just ensuring that any time there is an incident we have the most comprehensive version of events we can," TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told CBC Toronto.

While buses will have a total of six external cameras, streetcars are set to have more due to their size. The transit agency has yet to release any information regarding the cost of the instillation to vehicles.

"Any cost associated with this is worth it ... if you're talking about large insurance claims for example. This is a way for us to potentially mitigate any claims that may not be legitimate. If we're cutting down on that cost then the cameras are a small cost," Green said.

In order to protect the privacy of passengers caught on camera, the feed will be encrypted and require an access code which will only be accessible by a limited number of people. The tapes will also auto erase after 72 hours. Although the TTC does hand over video to police regarding incidents, they will require a warrant for material caught on external cameras that does not directly relate to public transport concerns.

Despite this promise, former Ontario privacy commissioner Anne Cavoukian, is concerned about the camera’s ability to capture “a lot of personal data” from passengers.

"Privacy forms the foundation of our freedom. You cannot have freedom in a democratic society without a foundation of privacy. And privacy relates to control over your data. Personal control over the use of your personal information".