Logging footfall counts with a Raspberry Pi and camera – ethical considerations

Here at Cranfield University we are putting in place plans related to the new ‘Living Laboratory’ project, part of our ‘Urban Observatory’. This project sits within the wider UKCRIC initiative, across a number of universities. Of the many experiments in development, we are exploring machine vision as a means to provide  footfall counts of pedestrian traffic in parts of the campus. This blog provides summarises some of the ethical considerations relating to this work.

An important early part of this project involves preparing, submitting and securing ethical approval for the planned work. In the first instance we are running an experiment in a particular campus office area. Before commencing any technical work, a full approval case has to be prepared and submitted for assessment.

In the case of this experiment, we are intending to log only a count of pedestrian movements, with no personally identifiable imagery captured. Informed written consent is obtained from all residents of the office area, and signage put up for visitors, see below. The case outlining these intentions is drawn up and submitted.

These matters are raised here as a precursor to the technical description to follow, as IoT projects require careful consideration of privacy matters.

Note, image above is shown with the specific details removed