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Boston Thermal-Imaging Cameras: Privacy Violation?

/ Source: TechNewsDaily

In a move that critics say is taking the cause of energy efficiency too far, Boston city officials have plans to install thermal-imaging cameras throughout the city. For now, though, the project is on hold due to concerns that the cameras would violate people's privacy.

The city was planning on installing cameras that would take both aerial and street-level photos of roughly four square miles of the city in order to show heat loss in homes.

A report from Boston's WBZ-TV said that Boston "officials planned on sharing the photos and analysis with homeowners, and were hoping the findings would increase enrollment in efficiency programs and also create business opportunities."

The cameras, which take up to 20,000 images a day, are designed by Sagewell, a company that assess the efficiency of homes and businesses.  According to its website, Sagewell "discovers energy inefficiencies in buildings and directs resources to those buildings that can achieve the greatest reduction in energy use with the least investment."

The project was put on hold, though, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts voiced concerns that the cameras would reveal too much information. They felt that the infrared cameras would be recording not just heating inefficiencies, but also things that are happening inside people's homes.

"We are concerned about it, this is a technology which allows the people doing the survey to obtain information about what's actually happening in people houses," said John Reinstein, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

"You have a device which is not generally available to explore the areas of the home that were previously unavailable.”

While these concerns have put a stop to the thermal-imaging project in the city, towns outside of Boston have not reported any problems with the program. Both utilities and environmental groups from communities around the city are in the process of initiating the same project.

This story was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site of TechNewsDaily.