PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Palo Alto residents surprised by the placement of a number of surveillance cameras over the past weekend have called on city government to better explain their usage.

The cameras – up to 25 to be placed along city streets – are intended to measure bicycle and pedestrian traffic on certain streets for future streets improvements to better accommodate them, said Palo Alto Chief Communications Officer Claudia Keith.

“We’re in the process of putting together a large bicycle boulevard program,” said Keith.

The cameras are being installed by a third party hired by the city and as a result the city doesn’t know the location of the cameras until they’re installed, city Transportation Chief Rodriguez told the Palo Alto Daily News.

One resident complained about the sudden appearance of a camera on a telephone pole outside his Stanford Ave. home. “If you look at the camera, it’s looking right at the entrance to my driveway,” said Paul Machado.

Neighbors Chris and Athena Rink did not look too kindly on the camera. “Freaks me out! Big brother! 1984 you know, invasion of privacy.”

Rodriguez said the cameras don’t point inside any home and the raw video would be deleted once the traffic consultants measure the bicycle and pedestrian volume, according to the Daily News.

“We could’ve done – and should’ve done – a better job letting folks know where the cameras were,” said Keith.

“I do think it’s unfortunate that we did not get this news out in advance and I think we had a few surprising situations with folks — sort of surprised by these cameras being put up,” City Manager James Keene told the council, according to the Daily News. “We’ll probably be doing some more extensive outreach on that.”


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